What is the Florida rule for time-sharing modifications?

On Behalf of | Jul 21, 2023 | Child Custody & Visitation

When parents in Florida divorce or break up, they generally need to figure out a way to share their parental responsibilities. Typically, the negotiation of a parenting plan will focus heavily on time-sharing matters. Yet, the solutions crafted by a child’s parents or a family law judge early in the process won’t necessarily be viable long-term solutions for that child’s family. Especially when there is an uneven split of parenting time or when one adult seems less capable of providing for the needs of the children, it may become necessary to go back to the negotiating table – or court – to revise a parenting plan down the road.

People call a formal change to a parenting plan in Florida a modification, and an actual court-approved modification is necessary to make any significant changes to time-sharing arrangements and other parental responsibilities, whether that alteration is mutually-agreed upon or needs to be litigated. In the event that parents cannot reach mutually-agreeable modification terms, there are certain circumstances that must be met before adults typically have the option of asking the courts for a modification in Florida.

When there has been a significant change in family circumstances

Typically, the courts do not want to get involved in every disagreement about time-sharing that parents have, but sometimes it is necessary for a judge to settle a disagreement between parents. If the decision to change the parenting schedule is a mutual one that both parents believe is necessary, they will be able to request an uncontested modification, which is usually a straightforward process.

When parents do not agree about the necessity of a change or what changes would be best for the children, then it may be necessary to litigate and go back to court. To request a contested modification hearing, a parent usually needs proof of a significant, material and likely long-term or permanent change in family circumstances.

Examples might include one parent remarrying, getting a new job or developing substance abuse issues. Mere verbal allegations brought by one parent usually won’t be enough to change parenting plans. Documentation such as police reports, medical records and other verifiable evidence will typically be necessary to convince the courts that there has been a significant change in the family circumstances that warrants a revision to the existing parenting plan.

When a parent has evidence of significant changes to the family’s circumstances and/or their child’s needs and has reason to believe that adjustments to the arrangements for custody would be in the best interests of the children, they may then be able to file a request for a modification hearing and pursue an updated parenting plan.