Court divorces are hard and they may not always seem fair. While we have plenty of well-respected, intelligent judges on the bench, they can’t always know what the best decision is for each family that comes before them. In addition, circumstances change. What was a good court order yesterday may be excessively prohibitive tomorrow.
If you’ve been involved in a timesharing (custody) dispute or crafted a parenting plan during a divorce, you may need to petition the court to change the order if circumstances have changed. Similarly, loss of a job or a change in financial circumstance may necessitate a change in child support or alimony.
Why You May Need to Modify a Court Order
In family law, timesharing and visitation rights, child support, and alimony are the issues that most frequently require modification.
The reasons that Florida courts accept for modifying a court order include:
- One parent has consistently neglected the timesharing order established by the court and the other parent would like to challenge/amend the current timesharing agreement.
- One (or both) parent(s) have had a substantial change in circumstances (new job with different hours, for example) that necessitates a modification of the current timesharing agreement.
- One parent has been activated, deployed, or temporarily assigned as part of their military service and it is necessary to create a temporary timesharing agreement.
- One parent has suffered a substantial change in their finances and there is a need to alter the child support agreement.
- One party has suffered a substantial change in their finances and it is necessary to revisit the temporary, permanent periodic, durational, or rehabilitative alimony initially awarded.
How to Modify a Court Order
Before attempting to have an order modify, consider why you are seeking a modification.
Co-parenting is difficult and former spouses will likely make mistakes and forget about obligations, just as we might. Attempting to have a court order modified because of a missed appointment or because one parent doesn’t agree with the other parent’s rules may be seen as retaliatory.
A judge will only modify an order when there is a need for amendment because of a substantial change in circumstances. One missed appointment will not lead to changes in visitation or timesharing. In those cases, it is best to have an open line of dialogue with one’s co-parent.
Any timesharing or child support modification petitioned must illustrate how modification is in the best interest of the child.
Consulting With a Tampa Family Law Attorney
When filing for a modification of previous court orders, there are a series of steps that must be taken, including electronically submitting the request and notifying the other party. In order to ensure that all steps are handled appropriately, it is useful (and generally recommended) that a litigant hire a Tampa family law attorney.
A skilled Tampa family law attorney can help you determine whether you have enough evidence before petitioning for a modification of timesharing, alimony, or child support. In addition, they can ensure that all the necessary legal paperwork is filled out and filed appropriately with the Florida court system. Once you have a court date, your family law lawyer will present your case in a way that is legally convincing, presenting all your evidence for the judge. As your advocate, they will help you understand the process and any rulings while fighting on your behalf.
If you’d like to learn more about modifying a family law court order in Florida, consult with a Tampa family law attorney today.