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When do family changes make a custody modification necessary?

On Behalf of | Jun 12, 2024 | Family Law |

A time-sharing order approved by the Florida family courts is a powerful document. It outlines how the parents in a family divide time with their children. While parents may sometimes need to make minor adjustments for unusual scenarios, like a child serving detention, most families can consistently follow the terms established in a time-sharing order.

Occasionally, one parent may want to adjust or modify the time-sharing arrangement for the family. Perhaps they need to tweak the schedule because of shifts in their employment or the children’s school schedules. Maybe they have improved their situation and believe they should now spend more time with their children than they could during the initial divorce process.

Parents can cooperate to modify time-sharing plans at any point. If they do not agree about the need for a modification, then they may need to take the issue back to family court. When is a Florida family law judge likely to agree with the claim that a modification of the time-sharing arrangements is necessary?

After a substantial change in circumstances

The current time-sharing order likely reflects what the judge who heard the initial case believed was in the best interests of the children. Judges have to consider numerous factors, including the needs of the children and the abilities of the parents, when dividing parental rights and responsibilities.

A parent seeking a modification without the support of their co-parent usually needs to prove that there has been a substantial or material change in family circumstances. Effectively, the situation must have changed enough that what is best for the children has also changed.

One parent suffering a sudden decline in health might be a material change in circumstances. Remarriage or a new job could also constitute a sufficient change to warrant a modification. If one parent has proof that the other has failed to consistently meet the needs of the children during their parenting time, that could also potentially be an adequate reason for a modification request.

Simply proving a change in circumstances is not enough for those seeking a modification. They also need to convince a judge that the proposed changes to the time-sharing order are in the best interests of their children.

Learning about how the courts handle contested custody matters can help parents who feel frustrated by their current time-sharing arrangements to make informed decisions. Some parents can potentially seek more time with their children when family circumstances change significantly.