Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Modification of Parenting Plans, is there enough smoke to convince a judge that there is fire?
One of the biggest dilemmas that I deal with in family law cases is when someone comes to me with their desire to modify the terms of the original parenting plan or time-sharing judgment. The Florida Statute governing this particular request is Fl. Stat. Sec. 61.13 which basically states that upon showing a substantial, permanent and unanticipated change of circumstances, a parenting plan can be modified based upon the best interest of the children. Therefore, if you want to modify time-sharing, it doesn't necessarily matter that the time-sharing schedule that is currently in place is not in the children's best interest. You must first show the substantial, permanent and unanticipated change of circumstances. Its a gigantic hurdle and one that is not easily jumped in some counties. Often times, I hear clients or potential clients talk about various things that are going on in their particular life and I have to tell them, that it doesn't satisfy the statutory burden of substantial and permanent change of circumstances. The question is often how much smoke does there need to be before there is "fire" and the answer is a lot. I often remind people before they sign a parenting plan in an initial divorce that they are going to be stuck with a particular schedule indefinitely and that they should be sure they are okay with a schedule before they sign their parenting plan. In a nutshell, it is very hard to change a parenting plan unless you can prove that there is harm going on to your children that is caused by a change in your ex-spouse's life that was not anticipated at the time of the entry of the initial divorce decree. So, before you start spending a great deal of money on attorneys' fees to modify a parenting plan, make sure you have what you will need to prove your case.