A Final Judgment or order can be modified to make certain changes that may be needed. This can include changes to the amount and/or duration of alimony awarded, the amount of child support awarded, the amount of time-sharing awarded for the minor children, etc.
In order to file a modification action, the party requesting the modification must prove to the court that there is a substantial change in circumstances.
To be considered a substantial change in circumstances, the change must be…
- permanent in nature;
- unanticipated at the time of the last order;
- substantial change and
- a material change.
This is a much higher burden than the burden a party had for the initial case.
Child support and alimony awards can be modified pursuant to Fla.Stat. 61.14(1)(a)
This requires a substantial change in the financial ability of either party.
For child support, it may also be due to a child reaching the age of majority.
Child support can also be increased when one parent fails to enjoy their timesharing. See Fla.Stat. 61.30(11)(3).
Alimony can also be modified based upon a supportive relationship. However, it is important to note that certain forms of alimony are non-modifiable. This includes, but is not limited to alimony per agreement that expressly states it is non-modifiable, lump sum alimony (generally) and bridge-the-gap alimony.
Parenting Plans can also be modified.
To modify these plans, you will need to show a substantial change in circumstances AND that the modification would be in the best interest of the child. These plans can be modified as it relates to all issues listed in them from timesharing to parental responsibility so long as the burden is met of a showing of substantial change and best interest of the child.
The modification requested will generally not be granted for a time prior to the filing of a Petition for Modification. That is why it is important to get the petition filed as soon as possible once a substantial change has occurred, especially when you are requesting modifications to financial matters.
To file a modification action a Petition for Modification must be filed and must list with specificity the substantial change.
Often the first challenge made is a Motion to Dismiss due to the higher burden of proof.
If the burden is met, the parties will proceed to the discovery process of the case providing all requested and mandatory discovery.
The Court will generally send the parties’ to mediation thereafter to try to resolve their case. If the case does not settle, the court will set it for a trial where the party requesting the modification has the burden to prove the case.
Our firm offers free consultations and payment plans to assist clients in obtaining legal representation. Please contact our firm to discuss your case.