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What is the Difference Between an Appeal and a Modification in a Florida Divorce?


Many issues are negotiated in a divorce, and sometimes a spouse is not happy with the outcome of an issue. In other situations, a divorce settlement may be finalized by the court but circumstances change for one or both spouses after the fact. In either situation, a person may choose to appeal or request a modification to their divorce decree, but it is important that you select the right option for your situation. At the law office of Blair H. Chan, III in Tampa our team is ready to provide legal guidance on your options to appeal or modify your divorce settlement. Call or contact us today to learn more.

When Should I Appeal?

In Florida, a spouse can appeal a decision rendered by the court in their divorce case. This typically occurs when spouses cannot reach an agreement on an issue by themselves and the judge is required to rule on their behalf. If a spouse disagrees with the ruling because they believe it was made in error an appeal can be made to a higher court. An appeal is only allowed if a spouse believes that the judge erred in their ruling due to a mistake of fact or law, not simply because they do not like the outcome.

In most cases, a spouse has thirty days from the judgment to file a Notice of Appeal with the court. The judgment on the issue must be final before an appeal is made. The issue then goes to the appellate court with a written brief and oral arguments on the case. The appellate judges then decide whether to affirm the lower court’s ruling, reverse, or remand back to the trial court with instructions.

When Should I Request a Modification?

A spouse can request a modification to the terms of their divorce decree if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. Unlike an appeal, which typically happens immediately after a ruling, requests for modification occur months or years after a divorce has been finalized. In order to qualify for a modification in the terms of the divorce, a former spouse must show that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred that was not contemplated at the time the divorce was finalized, is material, and is permanent in nature. A modification can apply to matters of spousal support, child custody, child support, and more. Talk to an experienced Florida family law attorney today to discuss whether an appeal or a request for modification is right for you.

Let Us Help You Today

At the law office of Blair H. Chan, III we understand that situations change and that the court does not always come to the correct conclusion in matters of divorce. If you would like to discuss the options of appealing an issue in your divorce or requesting a modification to a finalized divorce agreement, contact our skilled Tampa family lawyers today to schedule an initial consultation.


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