Divorce and Child Custody Modification

divorceChange is the only constant in life, thereby, rendering the need for a post on custody modification. Whether the term divorce has just entered your vocabulary or the dust has already settled on your exodus from wedded bliss, you probably know this adage all too well. Perhaps  Mr. Right, who swept you off your feet with his flair for romance and sense of loyalty, developed an affinity for exchanging dirty Facebook messages with his new co-worker… and his high school chem lab partner. .. and your friend Kimberley. Or maybe Mrs. Right, who you once playfully nicknamed “the energizer bunny” for her uncanny ability to juggle a successful career, a family, and still have time to make you feel like a total stud suddenly decided to quit her job, hire a nanny, and free up her schedule for her new passion… hating you.

Custody Modification Process

Whatever the scenario may be, you have learned that change is inevitable, and to survive; you must accept it and adapt. This is especially true when kids are involved. And, seemingly, Florida courts agree. As discussed in previous blog posts, Florida statute has abolished usage of the terms “visitation” and “custody” in favor of the verbiage  “time-sharing” and “parenting plan.” This shows the court’s shift away from providing the minor child with one part-time parent to allowing them the benefit of enjoying equal access to both Mom and Dad. Given the court’s focus on the best interest of the child and the knowledge that change is inevitable, it may seem counter-intuitive that securing a parenting plan; or custody modification, is not always a simple task.

custody modification

Custody Modification Florida Law Adheres To

Florida courts have established a two-prong test for those seeking to modify a court ordered parenting plan and time sharing schedule. The first being that a substantial, material and unanticipated change in circumstances has occurred. And the second, of course, that the change in time sharing would be in the minor child’s best interest. The confusion lies in what actually constitutes a substantial change in circumstances to justify a custody modification. For example, one parent’s remarriage and an improvement in standard of living is not a substantial change; but the remarriage can be seen as a substantial change in circumstances if other components are present. Relocation to another state or town alone is not a substantial change in circumstances, but  factors ancillary to the move can alter its categorization. Even a temporary agreement to change custody from one parent to the other is not considered a substantial change, absent certain elements. It is the identification of these elements that makes having a capable divorce lawyer invaluable.

As with all aspects of family law, certain complexities and exceptions exist that require the knowledge and experience of a qualified divorce attorney when facing a custody modification.