Modifying Court Orders in Florida: Can A Judge’s Ruling Be Amended?
When a divorce is finalized in the State of Florida, there are several family and financial issues that accompany the case’s closure. When divorced couples have children together, child support and custody agreements are negotiated for the benefit of the kids — an arrangement that has their best interests at the forefront of its court order. Florida also awards spousal support, or alimony, in cases where one spouse requires financial help for a specified duration or permanently, depending on their unique circumstances.
When these rulings are made by the court, they are enforceable and should be upheld without delay or excuses.
But what happens when circumstances change, and the court order needs to be modified?
You Have the Right to Request Modifications to a Court Order
If you have experienced a significant change in circumstances, or your ex-spouse’s circumstances have changed and are affecting you, you have the right to request modifications to a court order.
The most common court order modification requests include the issues of:
What Are the Extenuating Circumstances that Would Grant a Modification?
The modification request can go both ways: One person may request a reduction in their obligations while the other person may request an increase in the child or spousal support or changes to parenting plans. Modifying these court-ordered agreements is a complex legal undertaking that requires an experienced attorney to place the case before a judge.
The circumstances that will allow a modification to be considered can include, but are not limited to:
- One parent accepts a better paying job that is out of state, thereby interfering with the existing custodial agreement and parenting plan
- One party is not fulfilling their duties as a parent
- Decreased income: These must be substantial, significant, and unanticipated financial circumstances that impede one person’s ability to pay the current child or spousal support amount; This can apply both ways, if the person who is receiving the child support loses his or her job, that person may ask for an increase in child support payments
- Increased income: If the paying parent has received a raise, or had a significant financial windfall, the other parent may petition the court to order him or her to pay more in child support
- Increases in childcare costs: As children age, their childcare costs typically increase. Whether it is a need for dental work or braces that requires a boost in child support or extracurricular activities including their involvement in traveling sports teams or debate clubs, the custodial parent may petition the court for an increase in child support payments to cover these costs
- Increases in family obligations: If the payer takes on additional family obligations, either through a new marriage, or an increase in children, he or she may petition the court to reduce their child support payments, so they are able to care for their whole family financially
How Hard Is It to Receive a Court Ordered Modification?
Proving a substantial change in one person’s circumstances — whether you are seeking a modification to decrease or increase your position, financially or in a parenting role — requires a complex standard that can be difficult to meet. For example, temporary unemployment is not a significant change in circumstances that will require a modification. However, a serious illness either to you, or to the child you are supporting, could warrant a judge’s review of the current financial needs of each party, and determine whether an increase or decrease is a valid request.
In addition to a request for permanent modification, is possible to obtain a temporary change in your agreements, should the short-term need arise. This, too, will require proof of significant circumstances that warrant the change.
There is a burden of proof that must be met, and if your circumstances meet those requirements, a modification could be exactly what you need to move forward in a positive way.
How Can The Law Firm for Family Law Help with My Modification Request?
At The Law Firm for Family Law, our Clearwater family law attorney will review your case and provide a clear answer as to whether a judge will consider modifying your current child support, alimony, or parenting plan based on the facts of your circumstances.
Contact our Clearwater, Florida modification attorney at The Law Firm for Family Law today at (727) 619-1297 to discuss your circumstances and learn the best approach to modifying your court-ordered arrangements.