Although your divorce may seem final, there are circumstances where you may be able to alter or change certain aspects of your divorce decree in Florida. Where there is a dramatic change in life circumstances, modification of the divorce decree may be necessary. For example, if your income drastically reduces or you are moving to another state, taking a hard look at your divorce decree to see if changes are necessary is a good idea.
Appealing Your Divorce Decree
If you are unhappy with your divorce decree, you have the option to appeal it to a higher court. In these situations, an appeal is appropriate if you think the order is unfair or it is based on facts that are simply incorrect. If the decree does not comply with Florida law, appealing it may be a good idea.
Divorce modification is a separate matter. You can still modify your divorce decree long after the appeal timeline has passed if you have a change of circumstance. While the property distribution generally cannot be adjusted, you may be able to alter things like child support, alimony, visitation, and even child custody.
Changed Circumstances and Modifying Your Divorce Decree
When the court finalizes your divorce decree, it considers your financial resources, employment capabilities, and many other factors. If there are children involved in the divorce, custody decisions are based on the best interest of the child. Modification of a divorce decree will also consider these factors. That means that there must be a substantial change in any of these factors to warrant an adjustment of the finalized divorce.
In most cases, there should be at least a 15% difference in income or employment capabilities to warrant a financial adjustment. There are also situations where lifestyle changes or medical necessity may require custody issues be re-determined. For example, if one parent can no longer to care for a child because he or she was involved in a serious accident, changing visitation schedules or custody arrangements may be necessary. In some situations, remarrying can alter whether alimony is appropriate as well.
Regardless of your particular situation, the Court will require that you show a “substantial change in circumstances” to trigger the need to modify the divorce decree.
Increasing Your Chances for a Modification Request
To increase your likelihood of success for a modification request is a good idea to make sincere efforts to uphold your part of the bargain. That is, you should be caring properly for your children, taking advantage of visitation opportunities, and keeping up with child support obligations. The same can be said about alimony responsibilities. The court will be far more likely to grant a modification if you are on your best behavior and trying hard to comply with the terms of the divorce decree as it stands.
Modification will not be granted for simple disputes over visitation or custody. It is a waste of time, money, and effort to attempt to modify divorce decree when your circumstances really have not changed but you may be upset about how the divorce decree is playing out.
Modification may be a good idea for your particular circumstance. Contact us today to determine whether modification may be a viable option for you.