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Modification of Final Judgment

When a court determines one party’s responsibility to another—whether it be for alimony, child support, or in the context of a parenting plan—that decision is generally binding on that party. However, under certain circumstances, a judge may order a modification of a final judgment. If you believe that there is a need to modify a final judgment in your case, contact Sandy T. Fox, an experienced Miami family law attorney and Florida Bar Board certified expert in Marital & Family Law.

Modification of Alimony

Alimony is an allowance for support made under court order from one spouse to the other spouse. One party may be required to make alimony payments to the other during a divorce as well as after the proceedings. In some cases, alimony payments may be received consistently by a former spouse for many years. In other cases, the situation of one spouse drastically changes, and modifications must be made to an alimony order.

When there is a substantial change in circumstances that was not anticipated by the parties and it is “sufficient, material, involuntary, and permanent in nature,” a party may move for a modification of final judgment. An example of this might be if one spouse was enrolled in college during the divorce, but later begins working at a job where he is being paid a substantial salary.

Modification of Child Support

Child support is a court-ordered payment from one former spouse to another for the benefit of the children of the marriage. Like alimony, child support payments are determined during the divorce proceedings. However, Florida courts have found several circumstances where a modification of a child support order is appropriate:

  • When modification is found necessary by the court and is in the best interest of the child; or
  • When the child reaches the age of majority; or
  • When there is a substantial change in the circumstances of the parties.

As with a modification of alimony payments, the party attempting to change the court’s child support order has the burden to prove that the change in circumstances is “sufficient, material, involuntary, and permanent in nature.” The change in circumstances can be a change in either parents’ circumstances or a change in a child’s circumstances. For example, if a child is diagnosed with a serious illness, a court may order an increase in support payment to aid in paying for the appropriate medical care for the newly diagnosed disease.

Modification of a Parenting Plan

Parenting plans are determined during the initial divorce proceedings and dictate child custody arrangements. Under certain circumstances a court may determine that a change in the parenting plan is appropriate. In Florida, a judge is able to alter a parenting order if there is a substantial and material change since the original determination, and that a change in the parenting plan is in the best interests of the child.

An example of this would be if a spouse with custody of a child is deployed overseas with the military. In this case, a court is able to temporarily change a custody order while the spouse is abroad. However, the judge would ensure that there is still some method of contact between the child and the spouse who is deployed, whether that be through phone, video chat, etc. Finally, the parenting plan would likely return to the original plan once the deployed spouse returned.

Are You in Need of a Modification of Final Judgment?

If there has been a substantial change in your circumstances since your initial divorce proceedings, and you believe that there should be a modification in the court’s final judgment, contact Sandy T. Fox. Mr. Fox is an experienced Florida family law attorney who is a Bar Board Certified specialist in Florida Marital & Family Law. To contact the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. call 800.596.0579, or contact us online.