Significant life changes can be stressful. Losing a job, having a new child, moving to another city or state can all impact the Parenting Plan currently in place. Florida law allows a parent to file for a Parenting Plan Modification based on substantial change, but it isn't always easy for the parties to agree. However, if you plan carefully and focus on compromise, the transition can be smoother for all parties involved. If you can not come to a civil agreement, mediation led by a Supreme Court certified mediator could help.
Substantial Change That May Require A Parenting Plan Modification
The Florida Supreme Court approved a test for "substantial change." The person seeking the modification must show that the circumstances have changed substantially and materially since the original custody determination. The best interest of the children must be served by allowing any change to the existing parenting plan. It must also be proven that the change was not reasonably considered at the time of the original order.
Florida courts have held that the circumstances must be substantial, material, involuntary and permanent. The stringent legal definition of substantive change regarding a parenting plan modification means that the
burden is on the parent seeking the change to prove that the circumstances merit such a change.
A disability or terminal illness
Significant increase or decrease in time sharing (at least 20%)
Sudden job loss
A large promotion
A change in the mental health status of one parent
For alimony, the cohabitation or remarriage of a former spouse may qualify as a substantive change
These situations are just a few examples of when you need to contact a mediator familiar with family law. The mediator's purpose is to help both parties come to a fair agreement in hopes of avoiding a lengthy and costly trial.
Things that Do Not Qualify as Substantial Change
Life changes and the legal premise for defining substantial change are to avoid changes to parenting plans that may impact the lives of children for day-to-day life changes or changes that result from decisions made by the parents.
A few examples of things not considered a substantial change:
· A promotion that does not substantially change the income of one parent
· A demotion or temporary layoff is often not considered a substantial change
· Relocation within 50 miles
· Relocation made by choice without a significant change in financial status
· The birth of another child outside the established parenting plan
The goal of creating a parenting plan modification is to ensure children are well taken care of even after substantial life changes. Very seldom do couples decide to split amicably, which is crucial to finding a mediator that can present questions to both parties to help them understand their responsibilities regarding their dependents after they have divorced.
Matters Involving Children During and After Divorce
Many questions arise regarding children during and after a divorce. For example, you may ask who will cover health insurance, where the child will reside, or who will be responsible for current and future school costs? However, there is no need for these questions to promote unnecessary stress.
These questions are often hard to answer and can create stress and hostility in an already strained relationship. However, it is beneficial to work together to resolve these matters peacefully. If you can not reach a civil agreement, consider reaching out to a knowledgeable mediator skilled in family law.
Be sure to choose a qualified mediator that is familiar with parenting plans. You will find that you can come to a suitable agreement and save money, with both parties feeling more satisfied than if matters escalate to the courtroom.
A skilled mediator can help facilitate changes to parenting plans that can be approved by the court and agreed upon by both parties. Mediation removes the stress and financial burden of a return to court. A mediator experienced in family law encourages and facilitates working toward a compromise that meets both parties' needs while acting as a neutral third-party and keeping the best interests of the child or children in mind.
Contact Tridialogue Mediation today to discuss a proposed change to an existing parenting plan based on substantial change. Divorce and family law mediation requires an in-depth understanding of Florida law and the compassion to want to help parents find a healthy middle-ground when navigating life's inevitable changes.