Under Florida family law, a child custody order or parenting plan can be modified, but only if there is a substantial, unanticipated change in circumstances and the change is in the child’s best interest. While that may seem easy enough, it can be difficult to prove in court.
The first step a judge takes in reviewing a child custody modification petition is whether or not the change in circumstances is unexpected and substantial. In order to be considered unexpected, the change must not have been reasonably contemplated at the time the original child custody order was entered. If it is determined that the change is unexpected, the court then turns its focus to whether or not the change is substantial.
Determining if a change is substantial is often a case-by-case basis, but there are some situations which are almost automatically deemed substantial:
- Parental death
- Long-term parental imprisonment
- Child abuse
- Multiple DUI arrests while the child was in the car
A court is more likely to deem a change substantial when there is a combination of circumstances. Changes in the health or financial condition of a parent is typically not enough to be considered substantial. However, if the change is paired with some other situation, it may be deemed a substantial change.
If a child custody attorney can prove that the change was unexpected and substantial, the court can move on to determining if the proposed modification is in the child’s best interest. The court does not consider if the change is in the child’s best interest unless it has first been proven that the change was unexpected and substantial. Thus, it is important to hire an experienced child custody attorney.
At Law Office of Russell S. Hershkowitz, LLC, our Altamonte family law attorney understands what is on the line and can provide you with effective representation based on finding a beneficial resolution for your child. Call (407) 753-4111 or contact us online for a free consultation today.