Fort Lauderdale Divorce Decree Modification Attorney
Modification Hearings in South Florida
If your financial and personal circumstances have changed since the divorce or court-ordered divorce decree — such as through job loss, or a new job in another town or state—you can petition the court to alter your parenting plan or level of child support or alimony.
Curtis R. Cowan, P.A. represents men and women throughout Broward County. Based in Fort Lauderdale, Curtis R. Cowan is a Board Certified marital and family law attorney and certified family mediator who will advance your interests in these proceedings. E-mail or call our office at (954) 953-2575 to discuss your modification.
Child Support Modifications
Either party can move to have child support increased, decreased, or terminated. The court requires a “substantial change in circumstances.” It must be material (financial) and permanent, such as unemployment or reduced salary, or a raise or promotion. It also can include increased needs of the child, such as special education or medical needs. At age 18 or graduation, you can petition to terminate support for a child (unless the child has ongoing special needs). As your lawyer, I can help verify that the court has adequate information on which to base its decision. To obtain a downward modification, the change in circumstances must also be involuntary. There are a host of reasons child support can be modified upward, downward, or terminated.
Custody and Parenting Plan Modifications
Regardless of the reasons you may seek a modification to custody or a parenting plan, it is important to remember that it is not enough that the reasons for the change are merely in the child’s best interests; you must also show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances which were not contemplated at the time the current custody or parenting plan was established. While the court may agree your requested modification of custody is in the best interests of your kids, it must still deny the custody change if there was no substantial change in circumstances.
One parent can petition for sole parental responsibility (formerly sole residential care or sole custody) if there is evidence that the child is endangered in the other parent’s home, such as abuse, neglect, domestic violence, or drug use. The court will order an investigation to determine if the parent is unfit, which may include a home evaluation and/or psychological evaluation. We have represented both sides in these very contentious proceedings.
To increase your timesharing with your child, you will need to prove to the court a substantial change in circumstances and that the child’s best interests would be served. Once you have the child 20 percent of the overnights, child support is calculated at a gradual lower rate (the more time, the less the rate). However, a judge will see through a naked attempt to decrease support obligations if you have not been active in the child’s life before now. In limited circumstances, the court may also consider the child’s input in its decision.
Parents can alter the parenting plan on their own (e.g., to change schedules, a mutual agreement for an older child to go live with Mom or Dad). The court must approve the new plan. However, one parent’s wish to relocate with the kids is often hotly contested by the other — We can represent either party.
Modification of Alimony — You can petition to increase, decrease or end alimony if there is a material, substancial change in one party’s need for continued support or the other party’s ability to pay.
Contact Our Office About Modifying Child Support, Alimony or Custody
Call us today at (954) 953-2575 for a one-on-one consultation about your legal situation. We will explain the law and likely outcomes, and work toward efficient, cost-conscious out-of-court solutions, but we will aggressively litigate on your behalf as necessary.