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Life’s Many Changes May Warrant Modifications

Handling Modifications of Court Orders

Once an order or final judgment is entered by the courts, many parties often think they are done with the case. For some legal issues, such as the division of assets and debts, this is often true. However, child support and alimony are modifiable based on a substantial, permanent, and involuntary changes in circumstances. Health problems, job loss, emancipation of children, and increased costs for the children are some examples that may warrant a modification of orders.

Life changes may compel the parties to initiate modifications for their timesharing, spousal support, and/or child support, which could mean additional court proceedings. If you think you may need to change your child’s timesharing arrangement or have a desire to reduce or increase child or spousal support payments, here’s what you need to know:

  • Best Interests of the Child 
    Florida courts must consider the “best interests of the child” when modifying timesharing. This means they must review evidence that suggests whether modifications the parties wish to make are in the best interest of the children. Usually the parties will disagree on what is ideal, and the court is forced to intervene using guidelines that help to come to a final decision.
  • Substantial Change in Circumstances
    Parents who wish to make changes in timesharing or spousal support orders have the burden of proving that a modification is required. The party seeking the change must be able to show a “substantial, permanent, involuntary change in circumstances,” and that change must be something that was not contemplated at the time of the original order. Whether the change is “substantial”, “permanent,” and “involuntary,” is not based on the opinions of the two parties. The court will require evidence and the party asserting the request for modification will be required to prove their case. The other party will have an opportunity to dispute the facts and present their own evidence.
  • Issues Separate and Distinct 
    Child support and timesharing, though they have some overlap, are separate issues under Florida law. Child support may be modified without a modification in timesharing. If timesharing is modified, usually child support should be modified as well, but it is not necessarily required. A modification of alimony may require a modification of child support.

Petitions for modification of child or spousal support and/or timesharing are quite common, as life and financial circumstances change constantly. The issues can be much more complicated than they at first appear to be, and the law in this area is complex.

Contact a Family Attorney for Support in Modifications

If you need to seek modification of support or timesharing, we encourage you to give us a call. Attorney Ambrose has more than 30 years of experience in family law and has served both as a magistrate and attorney. We welcome the opportunity to discuss the particulars of your case. Call us today at (407) 388-8740.