As many know, divorce is an intricate process that requires significant attention to detail and legal expertise. However, even after the ink has dried on a Florida divorce decree, circumstances can change, leading one or both parties to seek modifications to the original agreement.
What is a Divorce Decree?
Before diving into the specifics of modifications, it’s crucial to understand what a divorce decree is. Simply put, a divorce decree is a final judgment that dissolves the marriage and details the responsibilities of each party. This includes provisions for child custody, child support, alimony, property division, and related matters.
When Can a Divorce Decree be Modified in Florida?
- Change in Circumstances: The most common reason for seeking a modification is a significant change in circumstances. This could be a considerable increase or decrease in either party’s income, sudden health issues, relocation, or any other change that affects the ability of the parties to adhere to the original terms.
- Best Interests of the Child: If the modification pertains to child custody or support, Florida law mandates that the change must be in the best interests of the child or children involved.
- Mutual Agreement: Sometimes, both parties mutually agree to modify certain terms. If the court finds the modifications fair and reasonable, they will typically be approved.
Florida Statutes § 61.30(11)(c) allows for one or both spouses to request a post-divorce modification for:
- Alimony. To increase or decrease the amount one spouse pays or receives.
- Child Support. Like alimony, you want to change the amount.
- Child Custody. A change in circumstances for one or both parents or the children forms the basis for you seeking an adjustment in the custody arrangements.
- Time-sharing (child visitation). One or both parents want to change how the visitation schedule is set up.
Assets and Debts that we agreed upon in the divorce cannot be modified with a few exceptions, such as fraud.
Events That May Qualify for Post-Divorce Revisions
Some of the main reasons you may wish to modify a divorce decree include the following:
- Change in employment status (a new job, recently unemployed, or retirement).
- Relocation, either to another location in Florida or out of state.
- Disability or severe illness.
- Remarriage or cohabitation of an ex-spouse.
- Drug or substance abuse/addictions.
- Change in the child’s age or their health.
- Relocation of a child with the custodial parent within Florida or out-of-state.
If you have other circumstances other than what is listed here, the attorney will be able to guide you as to the next steps and if the change meets the legal threshold for a modification.
Alimony and the well-being of the children are the most common reasons for ex-spouses to seek adjustments to their divorce decree. The attorney can help navigate you through whatever your unique circumstances may be.
How to Modify a Divorce Decree in Florida
- Filing a Petition: To initiate the modification process, the party seeking the change must file a Supplemental Petition to Modify the Divorce Decree with the court that issued the original decree.
- Mediation: In Florida, before a hearing is set, the parties might be required to attend mediation to try and resolve the issues amicably.
- Evidence of Changed Circumstances: It is essential for the party seeking the modification to present concrete evidence of the change in circumstances. This might include financial records, medical reports, job change notifications, or any other relevant documentation.
- Hearing: A hearing will be scheduled if the parties cannot resolve the issues through mediation. During the hearing, both parties will present their evidence and arguments, after which the judge will decide.
- Legal Representation: Given the complexity and legal nuances involved in modifying a divorce decree, it’s wise to have an experienced Florida family law attorney to guide you through the process.
Life is unpredictable, and circumstances can change after a divorce. While the process of modifying a divorce decree in Florida is clear-cut in theory, it involves various complexities in practice. Whether seeking a modification or contesting one, understanding the legal landscape and having a seasoned attorney by your side can make a significant difference. Call The Davies Law Firm to schedule your free consultation. (321) 848-0098.