Modifying a Finalized Divorce
The divorce process is often complex and lengthy and sometimes there are many issues that must be settled during the process. If the parties cannot agree upon the terms, then a hearing before the judge would be required and it would be up to the judge to decide the outcome. The terms of the judge’s decision will be included in a Final Judgment. Once the divorce is complete and the order is in place, if one of the parties wants a modification of the terms and the parties do not agree on the change, the only way to make a change is through a court hearing. Normally, there has to be a substantial change not contemplated at the time of the divorce in order to modify the Final Judgment when the parties do not agree. If you want to make a change to your Final Judgment, it is best to speak with a qualified divorce attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer will review your situation and help determine the best way to proceed.
Divorce Settlement Terms
Couples must make decisions, or the Court will decide, the resolutions of the issues in the divorce, called dissolution of marriage. Some of the settlement terms that must be determined include:
- Division of assets;
- Distribution of debts;
- Child custody and visitation
- Alimony (maintenance); and
- Division of retirement accounts.
If the couple has difficulty coming to resolution of terms in a divorce, mediation is mandatory in Hillsborough County. The terms of the agreement or court order may include specific instructions as to how changes can or will be made in the future.
Child Custody and Visitation Changes
One of the most common reasons for requesting modification is to make changes to child custody or visitation orders. A parenting plan is part of the original divorce order and it contains details as to how custody and visitation is to be handled. It should also provide for a method for making future changes. Changes may be relatively minor or may be quite more complex. Regardless of the change requested, all modifications must be made through the legal process to be binding.
Moving Out of State
Many requests for modification come when one parent wants to move out of state or more than 50 miles away from the other parent. The other parent may not agree to the other relocating with the child. In this case, the parent who wishes to move with the child will need to get permission and a court order or modification of the order that is in place, if the judge agrees that relocation and believes that relocation is in the best interest of the child.
Not all changes are allowed and modifications as to division of assets and debt are not modifiable without the agreement of the other party. Furthermore, the court will not even address changes that are not properly requested. Meet with your attorney to determine whether your proposed change meets the criteria necessary to be heard by the court. If so, you must file a supplemental petition for modification and proceed through the process. If a hearing is necessary, both parties must attend the hearing and each will have a chance to present his or her case. Your attorney will assist in preparing for the hearing and will attend it with you. The judge will listen to the case and make a ruling. Keep in mind that if children are involved, the courts are instructed to make decisions that are in the best interest of the child. Once the ruling is made it is the new effective court order.
If you are in need of a modification or must attend a modification hearing, contact the Tampa divorce and family lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. in Tampa Bay at 813-816-2232 for a consultation at no charge or email us.
By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+