Law Office of Steven R. Brenners

What Is The Process To Modify A Divorce Decree?

What people don’t realize in looking at a modification, is that a modification is an entirely new lawsuit. For example, in Florida, one party filing what’s called a Petition for a Divorce, or a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage starts a divorce. In seeking a modification, the party likewise files a petition for modification, which is a new lawsuit. This means the other party has to be served with papers. The moving party, or the party that’s seeking a modification, will file his or her petition of modification. The other party will be served, just as in any other lawsuit. The party being served has 20 days to respond if he or she is still living in Florida. If he or she is served outside the state of Florida, they generally have 30 days to respond.

The response can be either just an answer, or it could possibly an answer and a counter-petition. If a party seeks a modification and serves the petition for modification on the other party, the party receiving the petition for modification needs to file a response, and possibly counter-petition if that person pleads that there might be some other changes that are necessary. A new lawsuit is instituted, and you just have to see it through the end. Generally, if there are financial issues, there is going to be financial discovery. If there are child related issues, there might be some discovery done related to the well-being of the child, and eventually, the parties will go to mediation to see if the issues can be resolved at the mediation. If not, there will be a trial, just as was done for the original divorce.

Can A Request Or Petition To Modify A Divorce Decree Be Challenged?

A person seeking modification will file a petition for modification, and the party receiving the petition can look at it and challenge the petitioner. There are several ways to challenge a petition, but the most appropriate way to challenge it would be to state that the party seeking the modification did not meet the legal standard of a permanent, substantial, and unanticipated change of circumstances. The petitioner has to state, and show in his or her petition, that a permanent, substantial, and unanticipated change of circumstances occurred. If the allegations do not show that there’s been a permanent, substantial, and unanticipated change, the party receiving the petition can file the motion to dismiss, thereby challenging the legal basis for the filing of the petition.

What Is Generally The Timeline For A Request For Modification To Go Through?

We try to get things done as quickly as possible, and lawyers in general are tasked with getting these things resolved as quickly as possible, but clients have to remember that this is a new lawsuit. The Supreme Court of Florida likes to see these cases done within a year, but even that’s a long time. Because the petition is served as a new lawsuit, the person gets served has between 20-30 days to respond. After that, financial discovery can take quite a bit of time, as can the next steps of mediation and receiving a court date. Since it’s a family law matter, we’re tasked with trying to get them done as quickly as possible.

Obviously, if there is an agreement, we can get it done in matter of just a couple of weeks. But sometimes the parties actually come into my office, or one party comes into my office, and says, “My ex-spouse and I have agreed to this, but we have an order so the court understands what our agreement is.” Even in that case, we have to file a petition. We could state that the parties have agreed to the modification, but we still have to file a petition, file a response, and in that case, file a settlement agreement. If there is an agreement, the entire process could be resolved in just a matter of couple of weeks. If not, it can be dragged out as long as it takes.

Additional Information About Divorce Decree Modification

The only thing that I would say to anybody who is thinking about a modification is to go talk to an attorney. It’s usually not very expensive to sit down and have a meeting with an attorney that understands the law, to find out what your rights are, what your spouse’s rights are, and how you may be able to improve the situation for your children and for yourself financially. Find out if an experienced lawyer will recommend to you that you have the opportunity for the modification. If you do all this, find an attorney that you like, that’s experienced, and the one that knows his or her business. Search for an attorney who has expertise in family law, and find out if you are in a situation where you might be entitled to modification. If so, get in touch with an attorney that knows what they are doing.

For more information on Process Of Modification Of Divorce Decree, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (954) 755-0126 today.

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