Family law judges in Florida make child custody decisions based on what they believe are the best interests of the child, and they are reluctant to revise them unless they are presented with compelling evidence of an unanticipated, material and significant change in circumstances. When a petition is made to modify a child custody order, both parents are given the opportunity to appear in court so they can make arguments either in favor of or against granting the request.
Judges only grant requests to modify child custody orders when they determine that the existing arrangements no longer serve the child’s best interests, and they are unlikely to come to this conclusion if granting the modification request would cause great disruption to the child’s schooling or social life. Situations that could give rise to a modification include:
- The death of one of the parents
- A developing situation that places the child in imminent danger of harm
- One of the parents plans to move to a different city or state
- One of the parents is ignoring the existing child custody order and denying the other parent time with the child
Requesting a child custody modification in Florida
Parents in Florida who wish to seek a child custody modification must complete and submit a Family Law Form 12.905(a). They must also notify the other parent about their request by either personal or constructive service. An attorney with experience in this area can help parents with the paperwork and ensure that all parties are properly served, and they can also make arguments on behalf of parents during modification hearings.
Child custody modification hearings
Passions often run hot during child custody disputes as the welfare of children is at stake, but parents who hope to convince a judge that a modification is needed would be wise to keep their emotions in check and base their arguments on facts and evidence. They should also be aware that a child custody modification hearing will be held even if the other parent does not object to their request and agrees with their reasons for seeking a change.