“I need to change my parenting plan, it’s not working for me and my kids.”
Is this something you often find yourself thinking? If so, you need to know a few things.
First, the State of Florida permits modifications to parenting plans that come from a divorce or paternity case under certain circumstances. The Florida Supreme Court has established what a parent needs to prove before the local Trial Court, like Collier or Lee County, will consider modifying a parenting plan. This is called a burden for modification.
How hard is it to change your parenting plan? It is very difficult to prove a basis for modification of a parenting plan, with the Florida Supreme Court describing it as an “extraordinarily high” burden.
Who has to prove this? The parent who wants to change the parenting plan is the parent with the burden to prove a substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances since the entry of the most recent order.
What happens if I cannot prove this? If you are unable to convince the Trial Court that there has been a significant change in circumstance, the Court will dismiss your case. This can set back yours and your child’s desires for a long time and cost you a tremendous amount of lost legal fees. What’s worse is the Court could order you to pay attorneys’ fees to the other parent if you are in a superior financial position.
How long does it take? If you take your case to trial, it can take as long as two years, and sometimes, even longer.
Do I need a lawyer to change my parenting plan in Florida? You are not legally required to have a lawyer but this process is not something to take lightly, or in our opinion, to pursue on your own. In fact, we often help parents in your situation because they got a bad outcome the first time around, usually because they tried to cut corners on cost.
There are tremendous benefits to working with an experienced and well-respected local attorney. You run serious risk when you work with an attorney who has not practiced in front of the specific judges in your county as you will not know what he/she considers a significant change in circumstance to change parenting plans. This alone can save you thousands and thousands in legal fees.
For example, if you work with an experienced attorney who knows your particular judge does not consider remarriage and a change in job significant enough changes to modify a parenting plan, you will get better advice on how to preserve your assets and not waste them on this process OR reframe your case in a different light.
If you are finding yourself wondering how you can change your parenting plan because its just not working for you and your kids, call Family First Legal Group at 239-206-3664 or use the links on our website to schedule your consultation.