Modifying Custody And Support In Florida
When you divorced, you and your former spouse agreed to a custody and support arrangement that was sanctioned by the court. It dealt with where the child(ren) would live, how much support would be provided by the non-custodial parent, how health insurance would be handled, and the schedules related to visitation. The details were numerous, and the agreement fit the situation at the time. But as life moved along, changes occurred, and you are now hoping that the legal requirements in your agreement can be adapted to fit current circumstances. This is not a particularly difficult situation if the other parent agrees or if the desired changes are minor. But if the other parent wishes to contest any changes, it will be a bit more difficult.
A Contested Change
First of all, you’ll need to demonstrate that any changes are in the best interests of the children.
For instance, as kids get older, it’s possible their schedules become more complex due to extra-curricular events or jobs, necessitating changes to the visitation schedule. Other circumstances may relate to one parent moving farther away, making weekday visitation next to impossible. One parent may change jobs, requiring more travel. Another may lose their job all together. Addressing these kinds of changes generally occur only with some common sense negotiating and some paperwork.
On the other hand, requests related to a change of custody are a bit more complex. Let’s say the child(ren) prefers not to live with the custodial parent. Legally, while it may have some influence on the court, especially for older children, that alone may not be enough to initiate such a large change to your custody and support agreement. Convincing evidence must be presented to the court in order to secure any such changes, and evidence supporting the welfare of the child is by far the most weighty.
The process to modify these agreements requires diligence, patience, and not a small degree of commitment. You will be required to file a petition in a Florida court. It will ask you to identify substantial and/or unanticipated changes to your circumstances since the original agreement was signed, and to explain the changes you would like to see to the original agreement. Importantly, you will need to demonstrate the ways in which changes will benefit your child(ren). Will they promote the safety and well-being of the child(ren)? Provide greater stability? Perhaps it will increase opportunities for the child(ren) to interact with extended family. Whatever the anticipated outcomes, be sure to make a strong case for the positive impacts on the kids.
If a change to support is part of your request, this must be included in your petition. It includes additional forms related to changes in financial circumstances. If you are seeking changes only to support (and not to visitation), the appeal must be made to the Child Support Program or a petition could be filed with the Circuit Court. Changes to your circumstances, if demonstrated to be involuntary(due to illness, or layoffs), permanent (generally lasting at least six months), and substantial (at least a 15 percent reduction), may lead to changes in your support obligations.
Don’t go it Alone
At WiseLieberman we understand that life’s demands ebb and flow. When those demands have an impact on your custody and visitation rights and obligations, having experienced Boca Raton divorce attorneys by your side is important. Our family law attorneys know just how to proceed to achieve the best possible outcomes for you. Contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation in our office.