How to Modify Child Custody in Gainesville, Florida?
Have you ever wondered how to modify child custody in Florida? This article, written by a Gainesville, Florida timesharing and child custody lawyer will cover the basics of the relevant statutes, case law, and pitfalls regarding child custody modification in Florida.
There is a two-part test to modify child custody in Florida. First, the petitioning party must show there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the last custody order was entered, and that the intended modification is in the best interests of the child. Check out my previous posts for an explanation of the Florida laws on establishing child custody.
Substantial Change in Circumstances Test
First, in order to successfully modify child custody in Florida, a person must sufficiently allege that substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances has occurred since the last order was entered. This means that events or circumstances that existed prior to the previous order are not going to be relevant to the determination of whether a substantial change in circumstances has occurred.
Florida case law on what is considered a substantial change in circumstances is illuminating. Many events that may be considered substantial to a person is oftentimes not a substantial change in circumstances that warrants modification of the current parenting plan. For example, Florida case law is pretty clear that one parent remarrying is not a substantial change in circumstances.
When considering whether a substantial change in circumstances has occurred, it is important to keep in mind whether the change has affected the child or children. For example, as mentioned above, remarriage, by itself, is not a substantial change in circumstances sufficient to modify child custody. However, remarriage to a convicted child molester most likely would. Context is key.
Best Interest of the Child Test
It is important to note that if the court does not find a substantial change in circumstances has occurred, the Court cannot modify the existing parenting arrangement. (Of course, a parenting plan can be modified by agreement of the parties in most cases.)
If the Court does find a substantial change in circumstances has occurred, it must now determine whether the proposed modification is in the best interests of the child or children. This is done by analyzing the evidence and testimony against the factors found in Florida Statute 61.13(3)(a)-(t).
Of course, this post is meant to provide general information on the law on how to modify child custody in Florida. For information on how child custody effects child support, check out my previous post. Contact a timesharing/child custody lawyer you trust to learn more about the law applies to your case.