Florida family court orders are subject to modification under certain circumstances. Family court orders usually include child support payments, parenting plans, timeshare schedules , and/or alimony.

Criteria for Modifications

You cannot simply ask the judge to change a court order because it does not suit you or it seems unfair. The main reason for any modification request is that there has been a substantial change in circumstances that was unforeseen at the time the order was signed and it is in the best interests of the child to modify the order. These can include any of the following situations, which a Florida court will consider:

  • Loss of employment
  • Increase or decrease in income
  • Physical injury
  • Mental health of the parents
  • The parent’s relationship with each other
  • Level of involvement with the child
  • A parent’s proper oversight of the child’s educational and social development
  • Type of living arrangements
  • Difficulties in adhering to current plan
  • Relocation of one parent

A substantial change is one that is permanent and often involuntary.

Custody Modification

One of the most common requests for a modification involves time-sharing schedules. To modify a time-sharing schedule, the court will look at certain factors to determine if the change in circumstances is valid and significant enough to warrant a change and if it is in the best interests of the child.

If one parent desires a change in a time-sharing schedule due to a relocation, the court will have to determine whether to allow the relocation with the child. This includes examining the move’s affect on the child’s emotional development, the child’s relationship with each parent, his or her preference if old or mature enough, the reasons for the move, and why the opposing parent is objecting. Of course, the parents can agree to the relocation, sign an agreement consenting to it, and providing for a new timeshare arrangement.

In any case, the court still must approve the new agreement via a court order.

Alimony Modification

In considering a modification in an alimony order, the court also looks to see if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. Generally, the change has to be involuntary, unexpected at the time the alimony was ordered, and it must be permanent and substantial.

Typical circumstances that may qualify as a substantial change include the deteriorating health of the paying spouse or a significant change in the paying spouse’s ability to sustain the current payments. Another reason is an unanticipated and substantial increase in income or support of the receiving spouse.

There are instances where a paying spouse has voluntarily changed his or her circumstances such as by starting a new career in a different field because economic conditions have drastically affected the paying spouse’s old career. If the court determines that the move was motivated by the spouse’s desire for a more stable income with potentially future increases, then it may grant the modification.

Other substantial circumstances are the death of either party or the remarriage of the receiving spouse. Also, if the receiving spouse should have a friend who is contributing to his or her finances or is offering a “supportive relationship,” then the paying spouse could file a supplemental petition asking for a modification. There are certain criteria to determine if a supportive relationship is substantial or fits within the definition under Florida law.

If you have a circumstance where a modification may be warranted, or you are opposing a modification, contact the attorneys at the Morey Law Firm, P.A. at (407) 426-7222 for a consultation.