Tampa Post-Divorce Modification Lawyer
When a couple obtains a divorce, they must first create a parenting plan and come to an agreement regarding child support and alimony. However, the details of these agreements are all based on the family’s circumstances at the time of divorce. As time passes, children age, and ex-spouses may relocate or change jobs, making these arrangements unworkable. Fortunately, custody arrangements and support agreements can be modified following a divorce, so if you live in Florida and are divorced, but believe that your divorce-related agreements are in need of modification, it is crucial to contact an experienced Tampa post-divorce modification lawyer who can explain your legal duties and obligations.
Substantial Change in Circumstances
Courts are reluctant to change custody arrangements and support agreements unless there has been a substantial and unanticipated change in circumstances and modification is in the best interest of the child. Generally, to be considered substantial, a change must be of a permanent or near-permanent nature. Additionally, the party seeking the modification must establish that the situation could not have been anticipated at the time that the original parenting plan, custody arrangement, or maintenance agreement was ordered. This standard gives courts a great deal of discretion in deciding whether circumstances justify a change to a post-divorce decree. For this reason, it is especially important that a party seeking modification of a custody agreement or spousal maintenance award obtain the advice of an experienced Tampa post-divorce modification lawyer who can collect and present compelling evidence to the court.
The Best Interest of the Child
Judges will only agree to modify a parenting plan, child support agreement, or custody arrangement, when a party can demonstrate that the change would be in the best interest of the child. Although this is a relatively ambiguous standard, most courts will take a few specific factors into account when making the decision, including:
- The child’s physical and emotional safety;
- Whether the change would disrupt a child’s schedule or require him or her to change schools;
- Whether the modification would damage the relationship between one of the parents and the child;
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems him or her to be of sufficient intelligence and understanding to express a preference;
- The home, school, and community record of the child;
- Whether there is evidence of domestic violence, neglect, or abuse;
- The developmental stage and needs of the child; and
- Each parent’s capacity to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
To establish that a modification would be in a child’s best interest, a party will need to have access to compelling evidence, such as school records and witness testimony.
Before a court will grant modification of an alimony or child support agreement, it will also require evidence of a substantial change in circumstances, which could include:
- Health issues;
- Long-term unemployment;
- A substantial raise;
- Availability of medical insurance;
- Retirement by the payor;
- A decreased ability to pay;
- Receipt of a substantial inheritance or gift; and
Generally, courts are not convinced that circumstances warrant a change if a party can only demonstrate that there is a moderate improvement in the payee’s economic situation or the payee voluntarily quit his or her job. There are also specific rules in place for different types of alimony. For instance, some types of alimony are designated as non-modifiable.
Call an Experienced Tampa Post-Divorce Modification Lawyer
If you live in Tampa and are seeking modification of a parenting plan, child support arrangement, or spousal maintenance agreement, please contact Bubley & Bubley, P.A. by calling (813) 963-7735 to speak with an experienced Tampa post-divorce modification lawyer today.