Modifying Child Custody Rulings

- Gary E. Williams

Divorces occur at a specific point in time, with each spouse in a particular emotional and financial state. But life goes on following a divorce, and sometimes the situations of each parent change. When this occurs, rulings made regarding child custody at the time of divorce may no longer serve the best interests of the child. Family courts have the right to modify child custody rulings under such circumstances.

Changes in circumstances must be material

In order to convince a court to modify a child custody ruling, the changes driving your request must be material and demonstrable. The change you suggest must also be in the best interests of the child, given the new circumstances. Material and demonstrable changes usually entail a severe change in the financial or living circumstances of one parent. Increased frequency of arguments or difficulty between ex-spouses rarely constitutes a material change in circumstances, but can in extreme situations.

Common material changes in circumstances

Before pursuing a change to a child custody ruling, consider what Florida courts normally consider a valid change in material circumstances:

  • The ability of the custodial parent to continue providing a stable environment
  • Impact of the relocation of one parent on the child
  • Religious considerations
  • Lifestyle changes with a substantial impact upon the welfare of the child
  • Voluntary custody changes, when the parents both agree a suggested change is in the best interests of the child
  • Preferences of the child
  • Changes in the mental or physical health of the custodial parent

Consult with an attorney at the Law Firm for Family Law for all of your questions concerning child custody. Contact us at (727) 531-8737.