Jacksonville Modification Attorney
Modify Your Previous Family Law Judgments (Orders)
Your divorce or paternity (cases involving unwed parents) were not designed to be inflexible and set in stone. People change, circumstances change, families change, and needs change. As a result, your family court order will most likely need to be changed as well. Pursuing modifications to your family court order does not have to be as difficult or overwhelming as it may sound, but it helps to have the right Jacksonville family law attorney on your side. Attorney Leanne Perez can assist you with determining what changes are likely to be accepted by the court, and whether or not there has been a significant enough change to justify modifying your Florida family law judgement.
Sometimes, family court settlements include issues such as child support or visitation that may need to be changed on behalf of one or both parties due to specific circumstances.
Such circumstances might include:
- Loss of job Illness or injury
- Relocation in state
- Relocation out of state
- Change in employment
The party who is seeking the family law modification must show the court that there has been:
- A substantial* change in circumstances such as: the financial standing of either party, or the individual receiving spousal support getting remarried.
- The change of circumstances was not contemplated by the parties at the time of the final judgment of dissolution or paternity.
- The change is sufficient, material, involuntary, and permanent in nature.
- When a modification request involving children is in the best interest of the child, or children.
* Generally, to be considered substantial, a change must be of a permanent or near-permanent nature.
What Areas of Family Law Judgments (Orders) Can Be Modified?
The four areas of a family law order that can be modified at a later date are:
- Alimony (only in divorce cases).
- Child support.
- Parenting plans/child custody.
NOTE: You cannot modify a property division order; once a court makes a determination about how assets and debts are to be divided, this order is not amendable.
Modification of Parenting Plans and Time-Sharing Schedules
Although sometimes changes to parenting plans and time-sharing schedules are necessary, the Florida court is hesitant to make modifications once an agreement has been reached between the two parents or ordered by the court. The courts want children to remain in a stable and comfortable home. A constant state of flux is not considered to be the optimum environment for a child.
Judges will only agree to modify a parenting plan, child support agreement, or custody arrangement, when a party can demonstrate that the change would be in the best interest of the child. Although this is a relatively ambiguous standard, most courts will take a few specific factors into account when making the decision, including:
- The child’s physical and emotional safety;
- Whether the change would disrupt a child’s schedule or require him or her to change schools; Whether the modification would damage the relationship between one of the parents and the child;
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems him or her to be of sufficient intelligence and understanding to express a preference;
- The home, school, and community record of the child;
- Whether there is evidence of domestic violence, neglect, or abuse;
- The developmental stage and needs of the child; and
- Each parent’s capacity to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
To establish that a modification would be in a child’s best interest, a party will need to have access to compelling evidence, such as school records and witness testimony.
If your circumstances require you to make changes to your parenting plan and time-sharing schedule, contact Attorney Leanne Perez. Having legal representation to make sure your requests are taken seriously can give you a peace of mind, as well as better your prospects.
Modification of Child Support
Perhaps you have lost your job and need to ask the courts for either an upward or downward modification of child support or you believe that the parent who is paying child support has not reported bonuses or raises that would effect your child support amount. Child support modifications can also be made based on the amount of timesharing you currently have that did not apply when your judgment was entered in family court.
In child support cases, the Florida Child Support Guidelines may provide the basis for proving a substantial change in circumstances upon which a modification of an existing order may be granted. However, the difference between the existing monthly obligation and the amount provided for under the guidelines shall be at least 15 percent or $50, whichever amount is greater, before the Court may find that the guidelines provide a substantial change in circumstances. Some of the factors that are used to calculate child support are each parent’s income, health insurance expenses, daycare expenses (if applicable) and the time-sharing schedule if both parents have at least 20% overnights with the minor child or children.
Child support modifications, whether you want to file a petition for change or if you have been served with a petition for modification of child support needs to be addressed promptly.
Modification of Alimony
Most forms of alimony are modifiable but others are not. Bridge-the-gap alimony and lump sum alimony cannot be modified. Rehabilitative alimony, durational alimony, and permanent alimony may be modified or terminated under certain circumstances.
Examples of such circumstances are a significant change of income by either former spouse, disability, retirement, remarriage of the recipient former spouse, the recipient former spouse engaging in a supportive relationship, or the recipient former spouse no following through with a specific rehabilitative plan. This list is not inclusive and every alimony modification case is unique.
Reaching an Agreement in a Modification Proceeding
If you wish to modify any court orders in your case, you may attempt to come to a new agreement with the other party to the proceeding. This option would be the most cost effective for you, since there would be no need to appear in court. Once an agreement is reached, the agreement must be submitted to the family law court, where the judge will review the agreement. Once the judge approves of the agreement, the judge signs a new court order and the agreement becomes a court order and is legally enforceable.
While this option is procedurally the least complex and most cost effective type of modification, it still requires the expertise of an experienced family law attorney in Florida. There are several issues that could arise from coming to a new agreement with the other party. The new agreement could be difficult to negotiate with the other party and an experienced Florida modification attorney could be the difference in helping you reach an agreement.
Do not attempt to negotiate a change with your ex. Let Attorney Leanne Perez guide you through the legal process. Verbal agreements are not legally binding and you might find yourself facing penalties if you change the terms without the court's involvement.
Free Consultation! Call Today 904-990-3066
If you or the other parent has experienced a significant financial change or other change of circumstances that would affect the amount of child support awarded, the custody arrangement already in place, or the alimony agreement already in place , it is important that you speak with a lawyer who can help you determine the best course of action. Please call Attorney Leanne Perez today at (904) 990-3066 for a free initial consultation.