The divorce is long over. Property was distributed, support was calculated and probably most important to divorcing parents, a final judgment was issued on the custody arrangements. As is the official policy of the Florida courts, the custody arrangement ensured that each child would have frequent and continuing contact with both parents, and that you and your ex would get to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing. All of this, of course, in accordance with the best interests of the children.
There is just one problem: Now you think it is all wrong.
Get ready for a serious custody battle, because the only thing more challenging than settling your custody conflicts during the divorce is trying to get custody modified after it is all over. According to Florida law, a court may only modify custody arrangements (now referred to under Florida law as time-sharing arrangements), when there has been a substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances, and when the court determines that the modification is in the best interests of the child.
That being said, if you believe circumstances have changed since your divorce in such a way that the custody arrangement (time-sharing arrangement) is now detrimental to your child, you have a right to petition the court for modification. You will need to file a Supplemental Petition to Modify Parental Responsibility, Visitation or Parenting Plan/Time-Sharing Schedule and Other Relief. Be prepared to explain, in detail:
- The change of circumstances that justify the modification
- The new parenting plan or time-sharing schedule you propose
- Why the modification is in the best interests of the child(ren).
If your ex-spouse contests the modification, you need to prepare for a trial. Gather evidence, assemble witnesses, and be prepared to argue your case before a judge or jury.