As circumstances change over time, most court orders gradually become less relevant. The child custody or alimony arrangement that works for you immediately post-divorce may not work in three years.
Filing an order modification case enables you to get a more appropriate court order, but it can be hard to know what steps you should take. Today, we're covering the order modification process in Florida so you can start working toward an order that reflects your current circumstances more accurately.
What Is an Order Modification?
Obtaining an order modification from a court allows you to change the terms of a legally binding contract. Modification cases are most commonly filed for child support, alimony, and custody orders.
There are two common types of modifications:
- Agreed modifications. If both parties agree on how to modify a court order like a child support arrangement, they can jointly file an agreed modification case with the same court that issued the original child support order. Courts typically approve agreed modifications quickly, although there is still usually a waiting time before the modified order becomes official.
- Contested modifications. If the parties disagree on how to modify a court order, the party that wishes to modify the order needs to file for a contested modification. The contested modification process takes longer and requires more steps, such as attending hearings in front of the court where both parties (or their attorneys) present their arguments for why the order should or should not be modified.
When Can I File a Modification Case?
You can file a modification case when you or the other party involved in a court order experience a "substantial change in circumstances" that makes the original court order an inaccurate reflection of your current circumstances.
For example, let's say you get a divorce. At the time of the divorce, you're the breadwinner, and the other parent is a stay-at-home caretaker with no income. The court will probably award the stay-at-home parent a significant alimony arrangement to help them maintain a good quality of life while they search for employment.
Now, let's say that a year and a half later, the former stay-at-home parent has a good job. Obviously, you shouldn't need to continue paying the same alimony obligation that you did when they were unemployed. To get an alimony arrangement that's more reflective of you and your ex's current circumstances, you would need to file a modification case (unless the alimony arrangement was already set to expire when the stay-at-home spouse achieved financial stability).
The court takes multiple factors into account when considering a modification case. The more documentation you can provide (income statements, proof your ex has a stable, well-paying job, evidence that the current court order shouldn't be valid, etc.), the better.
How Do I File a Modification Case?
If you and your ex both agree on how to modify an order, you should speak with your court clerk about filing for an agreed modification. They'll help you navigate the process.
If you disagree, however, you should obtain the help of a lawyer to file a contested modification. At Beatriz Zyne, P.A., we help individuals navigate modification cases in FL.
To schedule a consultation with our team, contact us online or via phone at (305) 876-6138.