support and custody modifications attorney

After a final judgment, your life circumstances are bound to change.  Depending on those circumstances, you may seek a modification of alimony, child support, or your parenting plan.  Find a Lakeland family law attorney who can develop the right strategy for your support or custody modification case.

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"Modifications can only occur in certain situations. The right attorney is key in helping you develop your strategy to prove your case."     

 

 

Heather Bryan

Parenting Plan Modifications

If you seek modification of a parenting plan and time-sharing schedule, it requires a showing of a substantial, material, and unanticipated change of circumstances.  Determination of the best interests of the child shall be made by evaluating all of the factors affecting the welfare and interests of the particular minor child and the circumstances of that family.  Other factors include:

  • The moral fitness of the parents.
  • The mental and physical health of the parents.
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.
  • The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
  • The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child.
  • The home, school, and community record of the child.
  • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
  • The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
  • The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.
  • Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, the court must specifically acknowledge in writing that such evidence was considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.
  • Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.
  • The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
  • The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.
  • The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
  • Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.

Child Support Modifications

Both parents have a continuing obligation to provide for the financial support of their children.  A former spouse who is seeking to modify a child support order has the burden of proving that there has been a substantial change of circumstances in order to justify the modification.   Whether or not to modify he child support is withing the discretion of the family court judge.  

Alimony Modifications

A former spouse that wishes to modify alimony must demonstrate that there has been a substantial change in circumstances or financial ability of one or both parties that was not reasonably contemplated at the time of final judgment. 

If you are the spouse who is obligated to pay alimony, Florida law also allows for temporary or permanent alimony modifications if you have had a reduction in income in good faith and without purposefully avoiding paying alimony. Florida law also allows for a reduction in alimony where the spouse who receives alimony has entered into a “supportive relationship” with another person. Courts consider the following factors to determine if a “supportive relationship” exists: 

  • The extent to which the obligee spouse and the supportive person have held themselves out as a married couple by engaging in conduct such as using the same last name, using a common mailing address, and referring to each other as “husband" and "wife."
  • The period of time that the oblige spouse has permanently resided with the supportive person.
  • The extent to which the obligee spouse and the supportive person have pooled their assets or income.
  • The extent to which the obligee spouse or the supportive person have supported each other.
  • The extent to which the obligee spouse or the supportive person has performed valuable services for the other.
  • The extent to which the obligee spouse or the supportive person have performed valuable services for the other's company or employer.
  • Whether the obligee spouse and the supportive person have jointly purchased real or personal property. 

If you or someone you care about needs to modify a final judgment, you need an attorney who will aggressively fight for your rights and protect your rights. Heather Bryan Law can help.  Please contact us today for a consultation by calling 863-825-5309.