Modification of Family Law Orders Modification of family law orders occurs when one party of a divorced couple seeks

to have the standing Court Order modified due to changes of the circumstances which originally led to the standing Court Order¶s original mandates/stipulations. Modifications of family law orders are also called post judgment modifications. They may include modifications in child custody/visitation/time sharing arrangements, changes in child support, geographic restriction/relocation, and spousal support or alimony. Just because a Florida divorce decree has been issued, it does not mean challenges for the divorced couples have come to an end. Family law orders are not forever etched in stone. Divorced parties are entitled to demonstrate before the court that a substantial change in circumstances is enough to justify a modification in the original court judgment or order. If both parties agree to the modification(s), then an agreement can be drafted, signed by both parties, and submitted to the court so that the modification(s) can be put into effect. One party may need to move out of state; a modification of a judgment prohibiting such a move may be needed. Or the parties¶ financial circumstances may change, warranting a modification in the amount of alimony or child support needed. Modifications of Family Law Orders are Usually Associated with the Following: y Child Custody²in Florida, a modification or change to a child custody or child visitation order can be requested by either divorced parent. The request may also be a joint request when agreement has been reached on the part of both parents as to the modifications to be made. Even in cases in which both parents are in agreement, the court must approve the child custody/child visitation agreement. Unless court approval is granted, enforcement of the new changes if one parent changes his or her mind and decides not to honor the prior mutually agreed upon arrangement, becomes impossible. In cases in which one parent wants a change in the existing court order and the other parent does not, that parent must file a motion to the court asking for the court to modify the standing court order. The parent requesting the change is responsible for demonstrating that a substantial change in circumstances exists, warranting the requested change. Any modification of family law orders regarding custody/visitation must of course be in the best interest of the child or children. Child Support²In order for the court to honor a request by either divorced parent to modify child support payments; it must be proven that a substantial change (increase or decrease) in income has occurred. Guidelines must be properly calculated and documented from the start. Full and mandatory financial disclosure is required. Modifications to child support payments often occur when the parent who is paying the support experiences a significant increase or decrease in income. They may also be called for in cases in which a child develops a special need²a physical or mental disability requiring therapy, for example.

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Geographic Restriction/Relocation²the majority of divorce decrees include geographic restrictions²statements that the parent/custodian of the child cannot move with the child out of the area without first seeking the approval of the court. Alimony²Modifications of Spousal Support²the court initially decides on the amount one spouse must pay to the other after a divorce decree has been issued. Nothing stays the same, and after a divorce the financial circumstances of either spouse may change over time. Because this is the case, either divorced spouse has the right to request a modification of the standing court order regarding alimony. Requests to change alimony payments may be made for example after one former spouse loses a job or after significant loss in future potential earnings. The request for alimony modification might also be made after a former spouse re-marries or after the recipient of the alimony payment has a substantial change in level of income. Alimony or spousal support is intended to make certain that the party who receives the support can go on living at the same level that she or he had become accustomed to during the marriage. In any case either the ability to pay spousal support or the need for payment may have changed. Alimony is never intended as punishment for the former spouse simply because he or she makes more money but to provide financial support for the former partner. A change to either former spouse¶s financial status may prompt an alimony modification order by the court.

How the Process of Modification of Family Law Orders Begins in the State of Florida The form Instructions for Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.905(b), Supplemental Petition for Modification of Child Support must be completed when you are requesting that the court make a change to a current court-mandated obligation for child support. The court can issue a change to a child support order if the judge finds that there has been a substantial change in the circumstances of the parties and determines that the change is in the best interest of the child/children. The form must be filed in the Florida county where the original order was entered. You must then notify the other party that the supplemental petition has been filed. Use personal service if you know where the other party lives or constructive service if you do not know or if the other party lives in another state or country. Laws regarding constructive service and service on a person serving in the military are very complex, and you may want to consult an experienced family law attorney for assistance. If no answer has been filed within 20 days, you may then file a motion for default²Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.922(a). A hearing can then be set. The other party must be notified of the hearing using a notice of hearing Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.923.

Contact a Family Law Attorney At the law offices of Brian M. Moskowitz, we can help you with modifications to family law orders aor any other family law legal issues.Contact the law offices of Brian M. Moskowitz² family law attorneys serving South Florida. Call us at (561) 369-4481 or fill out our online contact form. These articles are provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Professional legal counsel should be sought for specific advice relevant to your circumstances.

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