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Modifying a Final Judgment and Parenting Plan

A final divorce decree providing for the custody of a child can be materially modified only if there (1) are facts concerning the welfare of the child that the court did not know at the time the decree was entered, or (2) has been a substantial change in circumstances shown to have arisen since the decree.  The petitioning parent bears an extraordinary burden to prove a substantial change in circumstances.

A party, in order to modify a final judgment of dissolution of marriage, must allege and prove an unanticipated substantial, material change in circumstances since the entry of the final judgment.  See the case of Chapman v. Prevatt, 845 So.2d 976 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003) for a further discussion of this topic.

In Blevins v. Blevins, 172 So. 3rd 568 (Florida 5th DCA 2015), the former husband successfully appealed his former wife’s supplemental petition seeking to modify their final judgment of dissolution of marriage.  The modification order in this case was based primarily upon the court’s concern regarding the distance of the child’s school, which was a one-hour drive from the former wife’s residence.

The residence of both the mother and father were known to the court at the time of the final judgment, when the court designated the father’s residence as the child’s legal address and address to be used for school designation purposes.  Any concerns related to this particular issue cannot form the basis for the modification order.

There are also many cases that stand for the proposition that “parents’ inability to communicate does not satisfy the substantial change requirement for modification.”   A parent needs to prove more than merely an acrimonious relationship and a lack of effective communication in order to show a substantial change in circumstances.

Modification proceedings can be straightforward or complicated, depending on the facts involved. Call Boca Raton divorce attorney Alan R. Burton at 954-295-9222 to assist you in reviewing the facts of your case that you want to rely on in seeking a modification of your divorce decree.




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