It is impossible to predict the future. Life changes quickly, and what happens is beyond your control in many situations. The family law courts in Florida understand the demands of day-to-day life. The court can modify child custody orders (and parenting plans) if there is a substantial or unanticipated change in your family’s circumstances.
While this is possible, the courts will only modify a parenting plan if the modification is in the child’s best interest. If you want to have this changed, you must prove the proposed change is unexpected and that it is in your child’s best interest. This is often challenging without help from an experienced family lawyer.
Understand the Grounds for Modification
Florida law is explicit about what can serve as a basis for modifying a visitation schedule. According to the Florida Statutes, a court will only consider revising an existing order if there has been a “substantial change in circumstances” that affects the child’s well-being. This could include:
- Relocation of a parent
- Change in employment or work hours
- Alteration in the child’s academic or healthcare needs
- Evidence of abuse or neglect
Consult Your Child Custody Attorney
It is smart to talk to an experienced child custody lawyer before taking legal action or initiating a legal process. The attorney can provide advice based on your situation and help you determine the best course of action based on your situation.
Knowing your options and rights will help you save time and money and eliminate stress. Once you have discussed your needs and options with your attorney, they can let you know what steps to take. In most cases of modifying child visitation orders, the following steps must happen:
File a Supplemental Petition
If both parties cannot agree independently, the next step is to file a Supplemental Petition to Modify Parenting Plan/Time-Sharing Schedule and Other Relief (Form 12.905(a)) with the court. This will initiate the legal process for altering the visitation schedule.
Attend the Court Hearing
Once the petition is filed and served, a court hearing will be scheduled. Both parties must attend the hearing, where having a child custody attorney can make a significant difference. They can present your case and prove why the modification is needed effectively.
The judge will review all submitted evidence and listen to both parties before deciding on the modification. In Florida, the child’s best interest is the primary consideration for any modifications to a visitation schedule. The court will look at various factors, including the following:
- The child’s emotional and physical health
- The stability of each parent’s home environment
- The moral fitness of the parents
- The ability of each parent to facilitate a relationship between the child and the other parent
Obtain the Modified Visitation Order
If the judge approves the modification, the new visitation schedule will be formalized in a court order. Both parties are legally bound to adhere to this modified plan. Failure to do so can result in legal penalties, including losing custody or visitation rights.
Register the New Order
The new visitation order must be properly registered and communicated to all relevant parties, including schools and healthcare providers. Your child custody attorney can assist you with this.
Adhere to the New Schedule
Once the new visitation schedule is in place, both parties must strictly adhere to it. Not doing so could result in legal consequences and further complications.
Contact Griffin Family Law, PLLC, for Help Modifying a Child Visitation Order
Changing a child visitation order in Florida is a significant legal undertaking. It involves a detailed understanding of Florida law, filing the correct paperwork, and often includes court appearances.
Remember, the primary focus for any modification is the best interest of the child. The court takes this very seriously, and so should you. Whether you’re a parent seeking more time with your child or looking to protect your child from a potentially harmful environment, knowing the proper steps for modifying a visitation schedule is crucial.
For professional guidance tailored to your personal circumstances, consult the experienced child custody attorney at Griffin Family Law, PLLC. With the right legal support, navigating the complexities of changing a child visitation order can become a manageable, more straightforward process.