Law Office of Steven R. Brenners

What Is The Legal Standard For A Modification Of A Divorce Decree?

The legal standard for any modification to the divorce decree falls in one of two broad categories, financial-related and parenting-related. When it comes to financial, the legal standard for a modification is a permanent, substantial, and unanticipated change of circumstance. When it comes to a parenting modification, it’s essentially the same standards—a permanent, substantial, and unanticipated change. For parenting-related changes, many courts also add an additional factor, which is the best interest of the children. If it’s in the best interest of the children to seek a modification, the court should be able to grant that for the person seeking the modification.

A permanent change of circumstances is a word that many people are confused about, because we don’t really know what’s permanent in this world. When it comes to financial situations, the courts have defined permanent as a change that has gone on for at least a year. What makes a change permanent when it comes to the parenting issue is always related to the situation of the children. As children grow, situations are always subject to change. So when you seek a permanent change on child-related issues, that’s an issue where you really need legal counsel to discuss what would be considered a permanent change. In this way, it’s easier to define what’s substantial and what’s unanticipated.

Does The Same Judge Who Handled The Divorce Decree Also Handle Modification?

In general, the modification to a divorce decree will take place in the same county where the divorce occurred. In Florida, our courts are sectioned off into separate divisions. There is a Family Division, and then within the Family Division, there are further divisions. Each division is assigned a judge. When you get divorced, you are assigned to a judge in a particular division. In Florida, we have numbers for our Family Division, and each judge in each judicial division is assigned a number. As long as that judge is still working in family law, in the family court system, then you would again be assigned to that same judge. Often, judges retire or they move out of family law, but you’d still be in that same original division.

In Broward County, Florida, for example, the numbers are 35 to 42, and those are the numbers of the family court judges. In Palm Beach County, they have letters, but each number or a letter is a designation of a division and you would generally stay in that division. If the judge is still active in that division, you would have the same judge. If the judge in that division has been replaced, then you would be with the successor judge in the same division.

Should I Hire The Same Attorney That Handled My Divorce For A Modification As Well?

There’s no obligation to keep the same lawyer. If the client is happy with his or her lawyer, then by all means stay with your lawyer, if you believe that your lawyer did a good job for you. Just because the party might need a modification to their divorce decree does not mean the lawyer didn’t do a good job. Things can change, and the reason most people need modifications is usually because things change in their lives, not through any fault of theirs or the lawyers. If your lawyer did a good job for you with the original divorce decree, you can stay with that lawyer, but you’re not obligated to. You can choose any lawyer that you want. We’d love you to give our firm a try. Come on in, meet with me, kick the tires, and see if we can do a good job for you. We’re happy to take on any modification of any work that was done by a different lawyer.

Where Does The Request For Modification Have To Be Filed?

For any divorce that we handle, the judgment actually says that the court that handles the original divorce maintains jurisdiction, which is basically authority over the people. Because of this, the county in which you were divorced is the county in which a modification will be handled. Sometimes both parties leave the county or the state, and in that case you might choose a different county, or even a different state or different venue, for the divorce modifications. Most often when you are modifying parenting issues that might be a reason not to stay in the same county. If the parent with whom the children primarily reside has left the county, either by court order or by agreement, sometimes the modification might take place in the county where the children are now living or are now residing.

For financial issues, modifications to the divorce decree would be handled in the same county where the divorce occurred. If both parties have left, then there are particular rules, which an experienced lawyer can address, to tell you the correct county or the correct state to file your modification. But certainly, those are very complex issues as to the correct venue or the correct jurisdiction in which to file a modification, and I always recommend that you speak to an experienced lawyer to get advice on the correct location and venue to file the modification.

For more information on Legal Standard For 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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