Modification of Final Judgment

Modification of Final Judgment

Is your family law case in need of a Modification of Final Judgment? When the Court finalizes your divorce, paternity, or child support case, there is a Final Judgment entered. The Final Judgment is a Court Order for the people involved in the case in regards to children, financial and other issues.

Let’s face it, we are all real people with real lives to live. Sometimes what we thought would work does not. Sometimes things happen in our lives that change what used to be. Thankfully, the courts realize this and have a procedure in place for Modification of Final Judgment. Most of my modification cases involve child support, alimony, and parenting plans. However, there is one thing in a divorce case you cannot modify, that is property distribution. You cannot go back and change the way property was divided.

Modification of Final Judgment for Child Support

Child support can be modified when a court deems it necessary as in the best interests of the child, when a child reaches the age of 18, or where there is a substantial change in circumstances requiring a modificiaton.

A modification of child support when a child reaches 18 years of age is a no-brainer. But, if the child is still in high school, child support must continue until graduation.

So what is a substantial change in circumstances? It is a change in circumstances for either a parent or a child. The change must be material, involuntary, and permanent. Some examples are illness precluding employment, termination from employment, or a change in a parent’s income that necessitates a modification of child support. In other words, if you get fired from your job through no fault of your own, you can file for a Modification of Final Judgment. If you voluntarily quit your job, you cannot reduce your child support.

Three Year Review

If your Final Judgment is more than three years old, you can file a Modification of Final Judgment if the change in child support would be more than 10% or $25.00 per month of the current amount

Modification Final Judgment for Parenting Plans

A parenting plan can get in the way of life at times. A parenting plan tells parents when they see their child (time-sharing or visitation) and what each parent’s parental responsibility is, among other things. Florida requires a detailed parenting plan in all cases. What worked, or what the parents thought would work, sometimes does not. Once again a change in circumstances is needed for modification.

Some of the most common reasons for modifying a parental plan is a change in employment, a change in days off or work assignments, transfers, military orders, and other schedule conflicts. In short, anyting substantial that requires a change in the parenting plan because it would be in the best interests of the child.

Modification Final Judgment for Alimony

Like child support, a Modification of Final Judgment for alimony involves a substantial, material, involuntary and permanent change in circumstances. The most common reason for a modification of alimony in our cases is a change in income of one of the former spouses. Of course, when a former spouse who pays alimony reaches age 65, the recognized retirement age, alimony can be terminated.

What now?

If your Final Judgment needs to be modified, here is what you need to do:

  1. Try to negotiate with your former spouse or partner and see if you can reach an agreement on the terms of a Modification of Final Judgment;
  2. If you are unable to reach an agreement, call a lawyer, like me, to discuss your Modification of Final Judgment;
  3. File your Petition for Modification of Final Judgment right way. Modifications are retroactive to the date of filing, so you are losing by waiting.
  4. Present your case for Modification of Final Judgment to a Judge or Magistrate.

If you have any question about the Modification of a Final Judgment, feel free to contact me to discuss your case.

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