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"Substantial Change" Required for Child Timesharing Modification

In Florida, divorcing parents must adhere to a parenting plan that establishes timesharing, decision-making, and communication responsibilities between parents. This recent development in custody determination reflects the State’s interest in emphasizing the importance of children’s relationships with both parents.

After the timesharing agreement is accepted and the divorce is finalized, parents may wish to alter the plan. If the parents can agree to a modification of the timesharing agreement, the parents are permitted to adopt the agreed upon changes. However, often one parent will seek the modification without the consent of the other parent.

Courts place a heavy burden on a parent seeking a timesharing agreement modification after a divorce. In Florida, a court will require a parent seeking a timesharing modification to show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances that necessitates the change. Additionally, as with all court determinations, the best interests of the child must be considered before altering a timesharing agreement.

A parent seeking a timesharing agreement modification needs to demonstrate that such change is substantial, permanent, and was not caused by something that the parent did voluntarily. Under this standard, courts will be very hesitant to modify a timesharing agreement for minor or superficial reasons. A court will consider a number of factors including parents’ financial circumstances, living environments, health, and actions in preventing the other parent from spending time with the child. Typically, multiple factors must weigh in favor of a change in the current timesharing agreement to necessitate a modification. Major changes in circumstances such as the relocation of one parent or abuse on the part of one parent can be sufficient grounds for modification.

If you believe that a timesharing agreement modification is in your child’s best interest, contact an attorney who will fight for your position.

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