What You Need to Know About Modifying Child Custody in Florida

To modify child custody in Florida, a change in circumstances must affect the child’s welfare, and the modification must benefit the child’s best interest. Here’s everything you need to know about modifying child custody in Florida.

Upon identifying a change in circumstances impacting the child’s wellbeing, a parent must file a modification request and notify the other parent.

What circumstances would negatively impact a child custody modification in Florida?

The filing parent must prove a substantial, material, and unforeseeable change in circumstances.

The following are all negative factors potentially affecting a child custody decision:

1. Physical relocation of a parent

Grounds for modification may involve a parent’s move to another state or great distance. The court must determine if changing physical and/or legal custody is in the child’s best interest.

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Children likely remain with the custodial parent, but a noncustodial parent seeking a custody decision change may prove the following:

  • The move would place a significant burden on the noncustodial parent and make it difficult for the current custody schedule to keep working.
  • The relocation would have a significant negative or positive effect on the child’s life in some other way.

2. A parent refuses to follow child custody agreements.

If a parent refuses to follow the initial child custody agreement, the other parent can request a custody change. For example, if a custody agreement stipulates a father has his child on the weekends and the mother refuses to comply, she violates the agreement. The father can request a child custody modification to see his child more often.

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The filing parent must give the other adequate notice and submit evidence in court supporting their claim. The filing parent can also petition the court to hold the other parent in contempt.

3. The child’s needs change.

As a child ages or circumstances change, what they need from their parents and their environment may also vary. If the child needs to go to a school closer to the noncustodial parent’s residence, the noncustodial parent can request majority physical custody in the child’s best interest.

4. The parent’s situation changes.

A parent’s situation may change, warranting a change in majority physical custody. If a parent needs to move to another state for work and the child should stay, they can request a physical custody modification.

5. The child faces danger.

The child’s best interest is always of the utmost importance to the court.

A court may modify a custody decision for the safety of the child if any of the following occurs:

  • Physical, emotional, sexual, verbal, or psychological abuse
  • Placing the child in the circumstances, through action or failure to act, at risk for abuse
  • Drug and alcohol abuse risk harm or create a negative influence on the child
  • Serious mental health concerns (psychotic breaks, hospitalizations, unstable or erratic behavior)

What types of child custody changes exist in Florida?

Florida offers permanent and temporary child support.

1. Permanent

The possibility of a permanent change in circumstances contends with the facts of the case. In most circumstances, proving a permanent change requires proof the change has been ongoing for six months. Temporary or short-term changes are insufficient to demonstrate a long-term, permanent change. For example, if you intend to find new work, losing your job is not a permanent change. A parent may demonstrate a permanent shift straight away in some situations, such as a serious, life-altering injury or sickness or retiring at the typical retirement age.

2. Temporary

An involuntary change occurs due to circumstances beyond the parent’s control, such as a prolonged illness or job loss. However, a voluntary change does not meet the criteria for modifying a support order. Examples of voluntary adjustments include quitting a job, getting fired for reasons beyond the parent’s control, taking a lower-paying position, or participating in criminal behavior leading to incarceration.

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If you or a loved one would like to learn more about Modify Child Custody Florida, get your free consultation with one of our Child Custody Attorneys in Florida today