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Changing Child Custody – or Time-Sharing – in Florida

Depending on when you got divorced, you either have a section of your divorce decree discussing child custody or time sharing.  Time sharing is the more recent term, but both refer to the plans regarding who has the children, and when.  Once a divorce is finalized, changing the time-sharing plan requires a modification of the previous court order.  Depending on the facts of the case, this may be easy or difficult.  At Estevez-Pazos Law Firm, we recognize life doesn’t always go as planned.  If you need assistance modifying your time-sharing plan, you need a child custody attorney.  We can help.

Modifying a Child Custody or Time-Sharing Plan by Agreement

Child Custody LawyersSometimes, when raising children, situations present themselves where it becomes apparent a different approach is needed.  Consider a family where the mother has the child during the week, and the father has the child on weekends.  This worked fine when the child was younger, and the father was working full time and attending night school.  However, if now the child is older, and wants to spend equal time with both parents, a discussion should be had.  Where the parents both agree that a modification is in order, it is a simple matter to contact a family law attorney to draft a modified time-sharing plan that reflects the joint wishes of the parent.  This agreement will be filed with the court.  It is rare that the court opposes a joint request for modification of the time-sharing agreement.

Modifying Child Custody or Time Sharing When the Parents Do Not Agree

When both parents are not on the same page about modifying the custody schedule, the parent seeking modification must establish three things in order to convince a court to modify a previously set schedule:

  • Substantial change in circumstances;
  • Material change in circumstances; and
  • The change was unanticipated at the time of the divorce.

While there are different ways to approach child custody during the divorce, once the decree is signed, the rules change.  The fact that you don’t like the original time-sharing agreement is not enough to change it.  Courts use their discretion in deciding what is “substantial” and “material.”  Examples might include the development of a chemical dependency problem, the introduction of a new partner that is abusive, or significant interference with the other parent’s time-sharing schedule.Children going from elementary school to middle school is not “unanticipated.”  However, a child being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, thus requiring a special school, may meet the requirements.

In each case, Florida law requires the judge to apply their judgment and common sense, when evaluating a request to modify time sharing.  A child custody attorney can help best frame the issues.

If You Need Assistance Modifying a Time Sharing or Child Custody Plan

If you need assistance modifying a time sharing plan or a child custody plan, contact us.  With over ten years of experience focusing on family law issues, we can help you determine whether a modification of your custody or time sharing plan is a viable alternative, and discuss the best ways to go about it. Contact us at (305) 717-7130 for a consultation with a child custody attorney.

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The Estevez-Pazos Law Firm, P.A.

135 San Lorenzo Avenue, Suite 650
Coral Gables, Florida 33146
Fax: 305-234-7028
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