Family Law Modifications
Child support, child custody, and alimony agreements can take a significant amount of time, energy, and negotiation to finalize. And yet, as life carries on after a divorce and circumstances change, these agreements often need to change along with them.
Whether you’re looking to modify your existing agreement or on the receiving end of a modification request, a base level understanding of family law modifications will help you navigate a modification to your specific child support, child custody, or alimony agreement and better your chances of winning your case.
Attorney Larry Schott helps families navigate the family law modifications process, creating peace-of-mind and stability for your family. He brings his clients over 30 years of experience settling family law cases with the care and personal attention of a small firm.
Here are Common Child Support, Child Custody, and Alimony Modifications in Florida with a Short Explanation of How to Get the Relief You’re Seeking
- Modification of Alimony
The type and terms of an alimony agreement typically dictate whether an alimony order is modifiable. A true or pure marital settlement agreement in which one spouse gives up property interests to receive periodic alimony payments is not modifiable. Similarly, lump-sum alimony is also non-modifiable because it’s paid as a single fixed amount. However, if lump-sum alimony is paid in installments it is modifiable.
- Modification of Child Custody (Visitation)
To modify a child custody or parenting plan, including the visitation rights of a parent, the party filing for a modification must prove that there’s been a substantial change in circumstances and that those changes have occurred since the most recent custody order was entered. The court goes into any modification case with an assumption that the original order was reasonable. In general, courts also look to preserve stability in a child’s life as it pertains to custody. Therefore, the parent filing to modify the child custody order or parenting plan must prove that the change is in the best interest of the child.
- Modification of Child Support
The court that initially entered a child support order has the jurisdiction to later modify the terms, conditions, and amount of the support payments only once a pleading for modification is made. To modify child support, the parent requesting the modification must show proof of a significant change in circumstances requiring the change.
- Modification of Parenting Plan
A parenting plan can be modified if, first, the court finds concern for the welfare of the child based on factors that weren’t known when the original parenting plan was entered, and second, there has been a significant change in circumstances since the parenting plan decree was entered. To successfully modify a parenting plan, the court must find an inadequacy in the care the child is currently receiving and whether the child’s needs are being met.
- Modification of Permanent Injunctions
The petitioner and respondent can attempt to modify, for example, a domestic violence injunction. To grant the modification, the party asking for the modification carries the burden of proof and must provide the court with evidence showing the modification is warranted. Due process requires that both parties be given the opportunity to be heard by the court before a decision on modification is made.
- Modification of Maintenance, Alimony Agreements, or Related Court Orders
A support, maintenance, or alimony agreement or order can be modified if the requested modification meets specific criteria. First, there must be a substantial change in circumstances since the time the most recent court order or agreement was made. Second, that change must not have been contemplated at the time of the final judgment of dissolution. Third, the change must be sufficient, material, permanent, and involuntary. The ex-spouse requesting the modification bears the burden of providing that all three requirements are true.
Related: Examples of Alimony Modification: Remarriage or New Relationship
Related: Examples of Alimony Modification: Inheritance and Gifts
Related: Examples of Alimony Modification Due to Health Issues
- Modification of Time-Sharing
Once a time-sharing agreement is filed, it can be modified if there is a substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances, and if the change is in the best interest of the child.
- Modification of Child Support in Proceedings to Establish Paternity
The court with jurisdiction over an existing child support order may modify or terminate the order as circumstances change. If a putative father challenges a final support order based on a lack of paternityand he does so within a reasonable amount of time – approximately a half a year from the order’s filing – he can file to modify the order on the grounds that he is not the child’s biological father. If, however, the same scenario occurs but the putative father waits beyond what the court considers a reasonable amount of time to file for modification, he may not be granted relief from his child support obligation.
Related: Terminating Child Support in Florida
- Modification of Property Settlements
- Modification of a Foreign Judgment
- Modification of Temporary Alimony or Support
- Modification of Rehabilitative Alimony
- Modification of Temporary Custody
8 Common Issues Related to Family Law Modifications
- How to Prove a Change in Circumstances as Grounds for Modification of Alimony
To modify or terminate an alimony agreement, the party filing for the change must prove that the following are true: there was a substantial change in circumstances, the change was not anticipated when the most recent alimony order was entered, and the change is sufficient, material, permanent, and involuntary. The ex-spouse requesting the modification or termination must prove that the change is necessary. The process includes an examination by the court of each person’s financial situation to determine whether the alimony payments should increase or decrease as requested.
- Retroactively Modifying Alimony
In a typical case, temporary alimony can be retroactively modified by the court from the date the petition for modification file, or any date between the petition’s filing to the date the modification was granted. An exception is unpaid alimony. If an alimony payment is missed, that amount becomes vested property rights of the payee and is not eligible for modification by the court.
- Retroactively Modifying Child Support
Increasing or decreasing previously determined child support obligations vests when the payments are due. Therefore, once a child support payment is past due, that amount is no longer eligible for modification in most cases. In most cases, child support is not modifiable retroactively. However, there are exceptions. For instance, if a parent fails to uphold their obligation within the court-ordered time-sharing agreement, the child support award can be modified retroactively to the date when the parent failed to abide by the time-sharing schedule.
- Role of Parenting Plan in Modification of Child Custody
A change to the parenting plan can trigger the need to modify a child support order. Changes could include a change in a parent’s ability to care for the child, one parent’s ability to see the child, the child and one parent move, one parent’s willingness or ability to maintain a time-sharing schedule, and other factors.
- Misconduct of Recipient as Grounds for Modification or Termination
- Modification by Post-Judgment Agreement
- Temporary Modification of Child Custody
- Venue in Actions Involving Modification of Alimony, Child Support, Child Custody or Parenting Plan
Call Larry Schott Today at 954-880-1302 For a Free Case Evaluation
Contact us today for a free family law case evaluation. We’ll listen to your case and explain your rights. When you’re ready to work with an experienced Plantation family law attorney to help you with your family law modification issues, then please fill out the form on our Contact Us page or give us a call at (954) 880-1302. Our office is located in the heart of Plantation.