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What is a Substantial Change in Circumstances?

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Whenever a former spouse wishes to modify a ruling in their divorce, the phrase always referenced is whether there is a “substantial change in circumstances.” However, not many people know exactly what counts as a substantial change in circumstances and what it looks like in practice when applied to different issues in a divorce. At the Law Offices of David L. Hirschberg in Boca Raton, our team has an intricate understanding of the law and can advise you on whether your situation qualifies as a substantial change in circumstances. To learn more, call or contact our office today.

What Does It Take to be a Substantial Change?

In Florida, the courts have defined a “substantial change in circumstances” to be one that is significant, material, involuntary, and permanent in nature. The situation could not have been known about or considered at the time that the divorce ruling was made. Judges use the determination of whether a situation rises to the level of a substantial change in circumstances when deciding whether to allow modifications in multiple significant area of divorce decrees including spousal support, child custody, and child support.  However, not all areas of the divorce decree are modifiable.  For example, property rights (i.e., equitable distribution) is not modifiable by the Court.

Substantial Changes for Spousal Support

In order to qualify as a substantial change in circumstances to modify a spousal support order, the courts have found that job loss, disability, or serious illness of the spouse paying support as well as a significant job promotion or cohabitation of the spouse receiving support all qualify. However, temporary job loss or a small demotion in pay likely do not qualify for the paying spouse, nor does a small cost of living increase for the recipient spouse likely qualify for a modification.

Substantial Changes for Parenting Issues

Florida courts have found that a parent suffering from new mental illness or substance abuse qualifies as a substantial change in circumstances for the purposes of parenting issues. Relocation to a new state or a significant distance away (more than 50 miles) that was not contemplated when the divorce was finalized also qualifies as a substantial change for modification. However, small moves within fifty miles likely do not qualify as a substantial change to modify an existing timesharing plan.

Substantial Changes for Child Support

Finally, many of the same circumstances that apply as a substantial change for spousal support also qualify for modifying child support orders. In addition, the disability or illness of the child qualifies as a substantial change in addition to the responsibility of new children by the parent paying support. To learn more about whether your situation qualifies for modification, talk to a Florida family law attorney today.

Call or Contact Us Today

Determining whether new life changes qualify as a substantial change in circumstances can be difficult to determine without a high-quality family law attorney. If you would like to speak with an experienced Boca Raton family attorney about a substantial change in circumstances in your case, call or contact the Law Offices of David L. Hirschberg today to schedule a case consultation.

Resource:

floridabar.org/the-florida-bar-journal/florida-supreme-court-defines-substantial-change-in-child-custody-modification-proceedings/

https://www.dhirschberglaw.com/terminating-parental-rights-in-florida/

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