Family Law Modification

To modify a plan or order means to change it. In the context of family law, modification has many applications.

For example, you can seek a modification of a parenting plan.  When seeking a modification of a parenting plan or time-sharing schedule after the court enters an order, the parent seeking the modification must show a change in circumstances that is “substantial, material and unanticipated” and must show that the change would be in the child’s best interests.

Depending on the modification issue raised, the court can consider many factors when evaluating the best interests of the child, in the context of a modification of a parenting plan the court will consider such factors as:

  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of parent to facilitate and encourage the parent/child relationship, honor the timesharing schedule and be reasonable when changes are required.
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs and the desires of the parent.
  • Length of time the child has lived in a stable and satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
  • The geographic viability of the parenting plan
  • The mental and physical health of the parents.
  • The home, school and community record of the child.
  • The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child and adopt a unified front.
  • Evidence of violence (including child abuse and neglect), etc.
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment free from substance abuse.

It is appropriate to file a modification action relative to a parenting plan in the circuit court in the county in which either parent and the child reside or in the circuit court that approved or created the original plan.  If it is a foreign judgment it will generally be required to be brought in the circuit court where the respondent resides.

You can also generally seek a modification of an award of alimony.  The ability of a party to modify an alimony award may depend on such things as either party’s change in income, whether the recipient spouse enters into a supportive relationship or some other change in circumstances.  The party seeking to modify alimony must show:

  • A substantial change in circumstances
  • The change was not contemplated at the time of the entry of the final judgment.
  • The change is sufficient, material, involuntary and permanent in nature.

A Supplemental Petition to modify an alimony award may be filed in multiple places and selecting the appropriate venue for filing may be critical to the success of the action.

Of course, you may seek to modify child support.   Modifications are appropriate when:

  • The child reaches a majority, is emancipated, joins the service or dies
  • The modification is in the child’s best interests, or
  • When there is a substantial change in circumstances of the parties.

A Court can also require support of a child beyond the age of majority when dependency is a result of physical or mental incapacity which began before the child reached majority or if the child is dependent in fact, and is between the ages of 18 and 19 and is still in high school and performing in good faith with the reasonable expectation of graduation before the age of 19.

There are other types of orders that may be subject to modification as well. The attorneys at Nicole L. Goetz, P.L. have experience both pursuing and defending supplemental petitions for modification. We also have the knowledge and experience to assist you during the original action, whether the dissolution of marriage or other types of action, in order to help you understand the ways to decrease/increase the likelihood of future modification and also understand the circumstances upon which modification may or may not occur.

Whether you are just beginning the court process or whether you are seeking to pursue or defend a supplemental petition for modification, we can help. Please contact our office in Naples, Florida to schedule a confidential consultation and receive legal advice based on your unique circumstances.

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