When spouses divorce, a Judge issues court orders addressing issues like alimony, child support, child custody, and visitation. As time passes, changing circumstances might require one or both parties to request a change in these orders.
Sometimes you and your ex-spouse agree on a change but you still must seek court approval. In other cases, you might be in conflict and a court must decide whether to grant the requested change.
If a court order issued after your divorce is not working for you, a local Florida attorney could help you seek a post-judgment modification in Coral Gables. A professional family law attorney can draft a new agreement and persuade a court to accept the modification, if necessary.
Appropriate Reasons for Order Modification
When a court issues a divorce decree and orders regarding child custody, visitation, and spousal support, the court expects the former spouses to use their best efforts to follow the orders. Inconvenience or disappointment at a Judge’s decision are not adequate reasons to seek a modification.
However, significant changes in life circumstances often require an order modification. The law refers to these changes as “material” changes. A Coral Gables attorney can advise whether seeking a post-judgment modification in Florida is appropriate.
Alimony, or spousal support, are payments that the higher-earning spouse makes to the lower-earning spouse to help them maintain a lifestyle similar to what they enjoyed while married. Requests for post-judgment modification are sometimes about changing alimony. Florida Statutes § 61.14 allows a former spouse to request an increase, decrease, or termination of spousal support. Potential reasons that might support the request include:
- One party experiences a severe health issue that has a long-term effect on their lifestyle;
- The paying party loses income or receives a significant income boost;
- One party is imprisoned;
- One party dies.
A paying spouse could seek termination or reduction of alimony if the other spouse remarries or begins living with a partner. If the couple is living together, a court will examine how much the couple mixes their finances and provides financial support to each other before it decides to modify an alimony order.
Parents do not have a right to child support but children do. In Florida, the amount is decided by a formula. Some child support arrangements provide more support than the law calls for but parents cannot agree to less than the minimum.
If the paying parent begins earning more money, their child support obligations should change accordingly. If the paying parent faces significant financial hardship, a court might grant a temporary reduction in child support, but courts are often reluctant to do so.
Many child support modification requests occur because the child’s needs change. If the child develops a physical or mental health condition, appropriate care might require more child support. As the child grows up, child support should address the cost of participating in sports leagues, music or dance lessons, summer camp, school trips, driving lessons, or similar activities.
Courts consider the best interest of the child when making custody determinations. Over time, the conditions that support the child’s best interest might change. Courts will consider modifying a child custody agreement if:
- Both parents agree a modification is necessary and they produce a written agreement for the court’s approval;
- One parent has an injunction for domestic violence against the other parent;
- One or both parents experience a significant change in circumstances, which could include a severe, long-term illness, mental health disorder, addiction, or criminal activity.
If only one parent petitions for a change in custody and the other parent opposes it, the petitioning parent must prove that the change represents the child’s best interest. Courts presume that contact with both parents will best serve a child, so the petitioning parent must show that this presumption is wrong.
Uncontested Orders Usually Accepted
Parties cannot just decide together to change their post-divorce arrangements; a court ordered the arrangement and a court must agree to any changes. However, courts will almost always accept a modification that the parties craft together.
A Coral Gables attorney in Florida can help the former spouses modify an existing agreement to meet their current needs or their children’s needs. The attorney can present the new agreement to the court for approval, and, in most cases, the court will issue the modification as written.
Speak with a Florida Attorney in Coral Gables for Help with Post-Judgment Modifications Today
Life is full of surprises that are impossible to predict. Orders that made sense when you and your spouse divorced might not make sense anymore.
If you require a post-judgment modification in Florida, trust a Coral Gables attorney to help you draft the new order and present it to the court. Reach out today to discuss your needs in a free consultation.