A divorce decree does not just end a marriage. It also contains court orders dictating the parties’ behavior going forward, such as property division, parenting time, child support, and alimony.
Life goes on and circumstances change. The arrangements that were acceptable when the divorce happened might not be practical anymore. In that case, the law offers an opportunity to modify the court orders in some circumstances.
Modifying court orders can be complicated and a request will be successful only if you meet the legal requirements and follow the procedural rules. Getting help from a reliable family attorney is essential. A Pembroke Pines post-judgment modification lawyer has the skills and experience to get you the revised divorce order you deserve.
Limits on Post-Divorce Modifications
Parties cannot modify a divorce order on their own, even if they agree. They must obtain court approval for the modification. Property division orders are not modifiable—once a court issues its order, the parties must divide their property accordingly and cannot go back to court to ask for a change.
Parties can seek to modify any aspect of the parenting plan by showing that a substantial change in circumstances justifies the modification. In addition, they must continue to adhere to the original plan until the court approves a modification. Failure to do so could result in an enforcement action against the non-compliant parent.
If one party receives maintenance, either party can apply to modify the alimony payment. A Pembroke Pines attorney can explain what someone needs to prove in order to justify a post-judgment modification.
Seeking Changes to a Parenting Plan
A court-approved parenting plan describes the parents’ arrangements regarding parental responsibility, physical custody and parenting time, and child support. If the parents wish to change the plan regarding parental responsibility or custody and parenting time, they must show a significant change in circumstances. In addition, the court will not change the parenting plan unless the requesting party demonstrates that doing so is in the children’s best interests.
The change in circumstance must be relevant to the aspect of the plan the parent wants to change. For example, a new job that works 9-5 every day might lead to a schedule change that requires a parent to pick the children up from school in the afternoons. However, if the other parent tried to use the new job as a reason to limit shared decision-making, a Judge would likely deny the request.
A formula can help determine the child support payment. A child support order is always modifiable if the parent can show that applying the formula to their current circumstances would result in a change of $50 per month or a 15 percent deviation from the current payment, whichever is greater.
Modifying Spousal Maintenance
If the Judge ordered alimony, Florida Statute § 61.14 allows either party to petition for modification in most cases. “Bridge the gap” alimony can extend no more than two years after the final divorce decree and is not modifiable; neither is alimony paid in a lump sum. Other forms of alimony could be modified with a show of changed circumstances.
Various life events could lead to a change in the spousal support arrangement. Events that could justify modifying these payments include the following:
- Substantial change in either party’s income;
- Recipient is cohabitating with an intimate partner;
- Either party has become physically or mentally disabled;
- Retirement or job loss.
Intentionally under-earning, taking voluntary early retirement, or provoking a firing to reduce alimony is typically not going to work. In such cases, courts will often use the income that the person should normally have.
If the recipient spouse was awarded rehabilitative alimony and fails to adhere to their plan to be self-supporting, the paying party could request to end alimony payments. A recipient who could not meet their goal to be self-supporting for reasons outside of their control could request an extension of alimony payments beyond the original timeframe the court established. A Pembroke Pines post-judgment modification attorney can help someone persuade a Judge to support their position on modification.
Amend Your Divorce Decree with a Pembroke Pines Post-Judgment Modification Attorney Today
A divorce decree is a court order and you cannot change it without court approval. In most cases, you must have an appropriate reason for asking the Judge to change an order.
A Pembroke Pines post-judgment modification lawyer understands how to persuade the court that a change is appropriate. Call today to schedule a free consultation with the team at The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm.