No one can predict the future. Life is full of circumstances that change suddenly and unexpectedly, often beyond your control. Florida family law courts understand the demands of daily life, which is why child custody orders (parenting plans) can be modified by the court if there has been an unanticipated, substantial change in your family’s circumstances. However, courts will only modify the parenting plan if the modification will be in the best interests of the child. Proving that the proposed change is both unexpected and in the best interests of the child may be difficult to do without the help of competent legal representation. If you feel it will be in your child’s best interest to either modify or prevent a change in the parenting plan, you should contact a Florida child custody attorney for legal assistance.
There are many situations when a change to the parenting plan will be in the best interest of the child. For instance, an order of protection can be implemented if a risk of domestic violence or abuse threatens a child or parent. A parent who successfully requests an order of protection from the court will automatically be given temporary custody of the child. In order to obtain a permanent change in the parenting plan, the parent must petition a Florida family law court and get approval for a parenting plan modification.
Florida family law encourages parents to share the rights, responsibilities, and joys of raising their children. Relocation of one parent to a location that is 50 miles or more from their current residence may also be grounds for a parenting plan modification. Relocation of 50 miles or more by one parent may make it unattainable for a child to maintain frequent and continued contact with both parents. However, relocation will not necessarily result in a modification. The relocating parent will need to show that the parenting plan modification is in the best interests of the child in order to be approved by the court.
There are numerous other reasons why a parent may petition for a change to the parenting plan. Regardless of the reasons for the child custody modification request, a Florida family law court will only approve a change if it is in the best interests of the child. It is important to hire a Florida family attorney who knows what factors a court will consider, and who can effectively persuade the court that your plan is in the child’s best interest.
Modifying the Parenting Plan
Once the Court has issued the parenting plan, it will be binding on both parents. However, Florida child custody law 61.13 does allow parenting plans to be modified. To modify the parenting plan, there must be a substantial, unanticipated change in circumstances. Additionally, the proposed changes must be in the child’s best interest. The burden of proving that the change is unexpected and substantial can be difficult without competent legal counsel. Therefore, if you feel it will be in your child’s best interest to modify or prevent a parenting plan change, you should contact child custody lawyers for assistance.
Determining if there has been a substantial change is decided on a case-by-case basis. However, some situations will almost always automatically be deemed substantial. These include but are not limited to:
- Death of a parent
- Child abuse
- Conviction of a crime resulting in long term imprisonment
- Repeated arrests for DUI while the child was in the car
A Florida family law court is likely to deem a change substantial when there is a combination of factors. For instance, allegations of substance abuse are generally not enough to automatically be deemed substantial unless the child’s abuse poses a danger. See Farrow v. Farrow. Further, changes in a parent’s health or financial condition are typically not enough by itself to be considered substantial. However, if the change is coupled with some other factor, it may be deemed a substantial change. See Perez v. Perez.
Under Florida law, there is a presumption the husband and wife are the parents of children born during the marriage. See Florida Statute §382.013. The presumption means that the law will assume the husband is the father without evidence to the contrary. See child custody case O’Bryan v. Doe. If the male wants to dispute paternity, a petition for the disestablishment of paternity should be filed in court. See Florida Statute 742.18.
If you’re an unwed father in Florida, a new law effective July 1st, 2023 gives you equal parental rights as long as both parents acknowledge paternity. Now, you no longer have to go through a lengthy court process to establish paternity and gain custody rights; signing paperwork with the mother suffices. However, you’ll still need to file a parenting plan with the court, outlining responsibilities and custody details. If there’s a dispute over the plan, a court will decide based on the child’s best interest.
Consult With a Child Custody Lawyer in Florida
The child custody attorneys at Florida Law Advisers, P.A., have years of experience in both advocating for or protecting from parenting plan modifications. We are skilled attorneys who know what factors are important to Florida family law judges in child custody modification cases. If you think a modification will be in your child’s best interest, or you want to stop a proposed change to the parenting plan, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our professional legal team is dedicated and passionate about these matters and will work tirelessly to help achieve the outcome you desire.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, Florida law does allow for a modification of the parenting plan if there has been an unanticipated and substantial change in circumstances. Additionally, the law requires that proposed changes be in the child’s best interest.
Minor children do not have the authority to decide which parent they will live with. The child’s preference can be a factor the judge considers but will not be dispositive. Instead, the judge will review all the details and decide the case based on the child’s best interest.
A petition to modify the parenting plan will need to be filed with the court and approved by the judge. You are not required to hire an attorney, but it is recommended to obtain an attorney.
Generally, Florida custody law requires parents who want to move more than 50 miles away to either obtain consent from the other parent or the judge assigned to the case. Failure to obtain approval from the other parent or court before relocating can result in contempt of court and sanctions being issued.
Florida custody law can require parents who want to move more than 50 miles away to either obtain consent from the other parent or the judge assigned to the case. Failure to obtain approval from the other parent or court before relocating can result in contempt of court and sanctions being issued.