Can I Modify my Florida Divorce Decree?
Once your divorce has been finalized, you may assume that it was your last dealing with the court and your ex. If you have children together, that definitely won’t be the case, as you may be sharing custody and co-parenting together for many years to come. Or, the court may have awarded you alimony for a certain amount of time after the divorce. Sometimes, your circumstances don’t remain the same, and that means the original order issued in your divorce no longer works for you or your ex-spouse.
Florida courts will allow you to go back and request a modification to your original divorce order, but this isn’t something anyone can file just because they want to. You have to meet certain eligibility requirements before a family court judge is willing to consider your request in the first place.
Possible Florida Post-Divorce Modification Scenarios
If you want to petition the court to consider changing your original Florida divorce decree, you are required to show that there has been a substantial change in your circumstances that occurred after the decree was entered. Florida also requires that this needs to be a material and permanent change that could not have been anticipated at the time of the original divorce. When requesting a modification order, there are certain circumstances that are more likely than others to qualify for a modification order. These include:
- One parent needs to move a considerable distance away, to somewhere else in Florida or to another state, for work.
- One parent has a substantial change in income (typically by 15% or more) or one parent is no longer able to meet their financial obligations for support.
- The spouse receiving alimony has remarried or is cohabitating with a romantic partner now.
- There has been an increase in healthcare costs due to a significant hike in premiums, or the child has new health issues or was seriously injured and now needs additional care that is extremely expensive.
Process of Obtaining a Florida Post-Divorce Modification
There are only two methods to have a divorce decree modified. First, you can reach an agreement with your ex-spouse prior to filing a request. The second method is to file a petition with the Florida courts for modification. The easiest and preferable method is when the parties can reach an agreement on their own. However, this is not necessarily easy, especially when one spouse is asking for additional support or the other spouse is trying to have it reduced.
If you need to file a petition for modification, your Boca Raton divorce attorney will be the one to help. The petition is similar to a lawsuit as you will need to have your ex served and wait 20 days for their response. There will be discovery, which you likely already dealt with in your initial divorce if it was contested. Sometimes these matters resolve through mediation, while others end up before a judge who will listen to presented evidence and then render a decision.
Contact a Florida Divorce Attorney
Working with a Boca Raton divorce attorney is highly recommended. This can be a complex process, and you need someone on your side who can gather and present the necessary evidence in support of your request for modification. If you need assistance, contact the Law Offices of Schwartz | White today at 561-391-9943 to schedule an initial consultation.