When It's Possible To Modify Existing Orders

Because life continues to change following the dissolution of a marriage, Florida law allows for modifications to existing orders in four aspects of a divorce — alimony, child support, custody and timesharing.

Barry P. Burnette, PA, in Tavares represents individuals throughout Central Florida in petitioning for a modification to an existing order or defending against a request to modify an order. There are numerous statutes governing the modification of existing orders. It is always smart to work with a knowledgeable and experienced family law firm like ours.

In order to modify an existing order, it must be shown that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred. The burden of proof is on the person who is petitioning for a modification. Possible reasons for modification include:

  • An increase or decrease of 15 percent or more in either parent's income
  • Remarriage of a spouse receiving alimony
  • Termination of a child's day care
  • A significant and permanent increase or decrease in the number of overnights a child has with one parent
  • An increase in a child's health care or education expenses
  • Increased costs for a child's extracurricular activities (such as sports, music or camps)

Alimony Can Be Terminated

Under Florida law, alimony may be increased, decreased or terminated if there is a substantial and unanticipated change in the circumstance of either party. Involuntary loss of a job is a common reason for modifying alimony with the emphasis on "involuntary." A voluntary reduction in income by either spouse is not grounds for modifying alimony.

Under Florida's "supportive relationship" law, permanent alimony may be terminated if a recipient is living with a partner and does not need continued support from a former spouse. Florida also prohibits continued permanent alimony that results in the recipient having a higher income than the ex-spouse who is paying alimony.

The Florida legislature passed an alimony reform law in 2013 that effectively ended permanent alimony, capped alimony awards and made it easier for a person to lower alimony payments upon retirement, but the governor vetoed the bill. Lawmakers addressed alimony reform again in 2015, but no law was passed.

Modifying Custody Or Timesharing

Florida courts will modify a child custody or timesharing plan only if it is in the best interest of the child. There are numerous reasons why this may occur, including an unsafe environment where a child is currently spending some overnights. Relocation by either parent also may be reason to modify an existing custody order or parenting plan. However, relocation will not automatically trigger a modification. Any parent who wishes to relocate more than 50 miles away from a current residence must receive court approval.

Let Us Assess Your Situation During A Consultation

Modifications to existing orders are complex. Consulting with an experienced lawyer is always a smart first step. Call 352-508-6735 or use our online contact form to schedule a consultation. We will review your situation and provide a candid assessment of what you can expect.