Modifications of Final Judgment
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Fort Lauderdale Modifications Lawyer
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Life can change, little by little and all at once. If you have experienced a significant change in circumstances impacting your (or your child’s) day-to-day life, you have a right to request modifications to any court orders relating to your situation. For instance, spouses can request modifications in alimony, child support, and custody if necessary, to adapt to your new circumstances. The court process for modification can be nuanced, though, and it is best to have an attorney by your side. GFC LAW provides Fort Lauderdale parents with zealous and personable legal representation, and the firm will do its best to strategize an effective case for modification of any court orders you have.
One type of court order a spouse may petition for modification is an alimony order. Unless otherwise established in writing, either spouse can request a modification of alimony if there has been a significant change in circumstances since the last support order. Note that courts may only modify the amount of support and not the length.
For instance, if a supported spouse does not comply with their rehabilitative alimony plan (they are not actively seeking to acquire education, training, or work experience to enter the workforce) while receiving support, the paying spouse can ask the court to modify or terminate the award. While this does not appear to be a change in circumstances per se, it is a circumstance not anticipated by the alimony order and can thus be brought up in court on unfair or unreasonable grounds.
Be aware that bridge-the-gap alimony is not eligible to be modified. Bridge-the-gap alimony is short-term alimony meant to aid a spouse in transitioning from married to single life, such as supporting them to pay bills while they find full-time work after the divorce. Bridge-the-gap support typically does not exceed 2 years and terminates if the paying spouse dies or the supported spouse remarries.
Modifying Child Support
Another type of court order that can be modified is a child support order. A child support can be changed by the court or administrative agency that issued the order if the circumstances of either parent change after the order is issued. More specifically, in the context of the Child Support Program, there must be a substantial, permanent, and involuntary change in order for modification to be approved.
The parent seeking to modify the support order has the burden of proving such a change in circumstances. As mentioned above, the law considers a change to be sufficient for modification if it is:
- Substantial – the change would cause more than 15% or $50 in the amount if less than 3 years have elapsed since the original order, or the change would cause more than 10% or $25 in the amount if more than 3 years have passed
- Permanent – the change persisted for 6 months or more
- Involuntary – neither parent is at fault for the change (e.g., an extended illness or employment layoff that is out of their control)
Modifying Child Custody and Visitation
Custody orders may also be subject to modification in Florida, especially as a child’s circumstances naturally change as they grow up. If there has been a material change in circumstances or several years have passed since the custody order was last issued, a parent may request an adjustment to their custody order.
Keep in mind that the parent filing a request for custody modification has the burden of proving that a child’s best interests warrant a change in custody. Generally, the court considers the following factors as impacting a child’s best interests:
- each parent’s willingness to foster a relationship between the child and the other parent;
- each parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs;
- each parent’s physical and mental health;
- each parent’s moral fitness;
- each parent’s ability to provide the child with a consistent routine;
- geographic viability of the parenting plan, specifically the amount of travel it would take to honor the visitation schedule;
- the child’s adjustment to home and community;
- the child’s reasonable preference if they are of a sufficient age and understanding;
- evidence of domestic violence, if any;
- each parent’s ability to provide a safe and stable environment for the child;
- the child’s developmental age, needs, and abilities; and
- any other relevant factor.
In the case of parenting plans, Florida courts will likely only modify an approved parenting plan if:
- the child’s safety is at risk;
- the child would benefit significantly from the change;
- a parent’s circumstances have changed dramatically, leaving them unable to meet parental responsibility and time-sharing obligations.
Parents can decide on a new, modified agreement by a new court order, or they may also settle changes outside of court (like in mediation) if they are cooperative. In any case, though, the final plan will have to be sent to the court for approval.
Contact GFC LAW Today to Get Started
If you seek to pursue a modification of a final court judgement, such as one regarding alimony, child support, or child custody, contact an attorney immediately for legal guidance. In most cases, requesting modification of a court order will require a fairly rigorous case for change, and an experienced modification lawyer can better help you gather the appropriate evidence and build a strong case. GFC LAW has years of experience helping families and their children, and you can trust that you will be in professional, attentive hands when you work with GFC LAW.