Modifying a Divorce Decree in Florida: Costs, Qualifications, & Process

In Florida, modifying a divorce decree, or post-divorce modification, involves changing arrangements made during the original divorce settlement. A divorce agreement revision request can be made one year after the divorce’s finalization.

Ex-spouses must show evidence to qualify for a post-divorce modification, like financial circumstances, child custody issues, health issues, remarriage, and cohabitation.

The alimony order, child support, and custody arrangements can be changed, with fees ranging from $300 to a few thousand dollars.

Both parties must either agree on a modification request or one ex-spouse must file a request directly.

What Is a Florida Divorce Decree?

In Florida, a divorce decree is a legal document that finalizes the dissolution of a marriage in the state of Florida.

It is a legally binding agreement that must be followed unless a significant change in circumstances arises.

Divorce decrees include specific arrangements that help make the transition easier for two parties and any children involved.

A divorce decree outlines the following terms and conditions of the divorce.

  • Alimony order
  • Child support
  • Child custody
  • Child visitation arrangements
  • Property distribution

A permanent and material change must affect the arrangements discussed during the original settlement to fully amend a divorce decree.

Can You Amend a Divorce Decree in Florida?

Yes, in Florida, a divorce decree can be modified by one party reaching a mutual agreement with the other before filing a post-divorce modification request.

If both parties cannot agree, one must show substantial proof of the significant changes that require modification.

New circumstances, like medical issues or financial needs, or finding legal errors in the original judgment, can happen anytime. There may be cases where one ex-spouse is not following the original divorce agreement.

Courts allow modifications before and after documents are finalized to help both parties maintain a smooth relationship after marriage.

So, even though divorce papers have been signed, the marital settlement can be changed.

How Long Do You Have to Amend a Divorce Decree?

In Florida, there is no time limit on amending a divorce decree. It is based only on a substantial change in circumstances, such as financial changes, child support arrangements, or unforeseen expenses.

Unless the case revolves around fraud, the assets and debts settled in the original divorce decree cannot be modified. It can only be changed if the court system agrees that an error in the court order was made.

Florida law considers these situations as grounds to modify a divorce decree:

  • Misrepresentation
  • Intentional destruction of damage to marital property
  • Spending marital funds on an affair
  • Hiding assets from a spouse
  • Spending marital funds excessively
  • Violation of court orders

For most post-divorce modification cases, former spouses can file a petition in court a year after the divorce was finalized, with a 20-day waiting period after the court hearing.

What Changes Can Be Made in a Post-Divorce Modification in Florida?

Florida family law allows the following details to be changed in a post-divorce modification.

  • Alimony: Changes in the spousal support or alimony payment can depend on whether one spouse wants to increase or decrease the amount.
  • Child Support: Child support payments are not included with spousal support but can change depending on a need to increase or reduce.
  • Child Custody: If new circumstances arise where one or both parents cannot abide by the custody schedule, they may request a modification.
  • Child Visitation: Visitation agreements and schedules can be modified if conflicting circumstances arise.

If one or both parties can prove that the requested changes will benefit the best interests of everyone involved, the court may agree to process divorce modifications.

However, note that modifications to initial agreements with assets and debts can only be modified due to severe reasons.

Can Division of Assets or Debts Be Modified After a Divorce Is Finalized?

In the state of Florida, the division of marital assets and debts can be modified only if the clerk or judge made mistakes or an ex-spouse committed fraud.

Fraud is the purposeful falsification of information or false representation. An individual commits fraud if they conceal important information, like exact amounts of funds and assets, or commit indecent acts.

The following constitutes fraud under Florida law:

  • Tax Fraud
  • Public Assistance Fraud
  • Corporate Fraud
  • Federal Fraud

If an ex-spouse can gather evidence to prove the other committed fraud, the judge may consider it substantial enough for modification.

If a judge or clerk makes a mistake on the initial divorce agreement, those involved must work with an experienced family law attorney to prove the mistake.

How Much Does It Cost to Modify a Divorce Decree in Florida?

In Florida, the cost to modify a divorce decree ranges from $300 to several thousand dollars, depending on the type of divorce made, attorney flat fees, and if the spouses hire mediators.

Filing fees begin at $300 but can vary depending on whether individuals file a “do it yourself” divorce, where they do not hire an experienced attorney. Clerk fees are $10 minimum.

The initial consultation costs can range from $170 to $250 for every additional hour past the first. This amount changes depending on the attorney or flat fee, usually paid beforehand.

If two people decide to hire a divorce mediator, costs can start at a minimum of $3,000. Divorce mediators are not always attorneys, so those considering hiring a mediator must proceed cautiously.

Some law firms have alternative fee arrangements or value-based billing when financial circumstances require adjustments. The individual and the lawyer may have a new agreement on scheduled payments for court and mediation fees payments.

In certain circumstances, a Florida divorce can cost up to $30,000, depending on the length of the proceedings and how both ex-spouses can compromise on post-divorce modifications.

What Are the Qualifications for a Post-Divorce Modification Request In Florida?

The State of Florida requires a significant change of circumstances to qualify for a modification of a divorce decree. Below are the qualifications for a post-divorce modification in Florida.

  • A substantial change in income
  • An increase in health insurance or other healthcare costs
  • One parent moving
  • Remarriage or cohabitation of a spouse who is receiving alimony

The abovementioned factors must have occurred after the divorce was initially settled for it to count for modification.

They must cause a significant change in the original divorce decree for any revisions to be legally binding.

The Florida Court of Appeals may either side with the original judge of the initial divorce case or overturn the lower court’s decision if necessary.

Knowledgeable attorneys and the court will confirm if all qualifications for post-divorce modifications are met.

A Substantial Change in Income

A substantial change in income meets the qualifications if the change in income is 15% or more than previously.

The changes include a sudden loss or increase in income, a spouse entering retirement, or a spouse gaining inheritance.

Since most arrangements are financial, one or both individuals experiencing this change may request post-divorce modifications.

This modification will also affect spousal support, child support, custody, and healthcare payments, so the judge will have everyone’s best interest in mind as revisions to the amounts are made.

An Increase in Health Insurance or Other Healthcare Costs

An increase in health insurance or health care costs for the child or parent meets the qualifications for modification if an involved party requires more financial support due to health issues.

An unavoidable increase in healthcare and insurance costs due to a medical issue also qualifies as grounds to modify a divorce decree.

If one party becomes disabled post-divorce and cannot care for themselves or a child, that situation can be grounds for modification.

There must also be a 15% increase in healthcare payments for the court to consider revisions in divorce decrees.

One Parent Moving

One parent moving qualifies as grounds for divorce modification if the relocating party moves 50 or more miles away from Florida with a child.

The argument is strengthened if they can prove that relocation is in the child’s best interests.

The other party is responsible for disproving the relocation reasons on custody or financial grounds.

Remarriage or Cohabitation of a Spouse That is Receiving Alimony

The remarriage or cohabitation of a spouse that is receiving alimony qualifies as grounds for post-divorce modification.

In family law, spousal support stops when the recipient spouse remarries. However, this does not automatically apply to cohabitation.

Cohabitation refers to two people living in a shared residence and engaging in “marriage-like” behaviors like shared expenses and assets, but it does not require a marriage license.

The other party must demonstrate proof of remarriage or cohabitation as arguments for modification.

How to Amend a Divorce Decree in Florida

To get a post-divorce modification in Florida, spouses can use two methods.

The first involves two parties agreeing on circumstances requiring a post-divorce modification.

If other circumstances cause the parties to disagree on a modification request, one must attain legal services to file a petition for post-divorce modifications.

When Both Parties Are In Agreement

Amending a divorce decree when both parties agree on the changes involves petitioning the court system for a modification.

The process of modifying a divorce decree in Florida are listed below.

  • File a written petition with outlined changes in the modification to the court
  • Compile necessary documents that prove the need for modification
  • Begin mediation with a lawyer to settle on new terms
  • The lawyer files a post-divorce decree with the court

The length of the process varies on the complexity of the post-divorce modifications, ranging from 6 months to a year.

Both parties can contact a Florida mediator to begin discussing changes in the agreement.

When Both Parties Are Not In Agreement

Amending a divorce decree when both parties are not in agreement involves the following steps.

  • File a written petition with outlined changes in the modification to the court
  • Work with the lawyer to compile strong evidence for modification
  • Begin mediation with a lawyer and the other party
  • If mediation fails, the lawyer will file for a court hearing
  • Attend the court hearing to present all evidence and modification requests

Whether or not both parties agree on a divorce modification, consulting with an experienced lawyer is the best step to understanding one’s rights, negotiating new agreements, and following all Florida divorce requirements.

Bringing all necessary documents, such as financial evidence and previous divorce arrangements, to mediation is required so that the mediator can best help the former couple make decisions.

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