MODIFICATION AND ENFORCEMENT
A divorce judgment is an official court order that must be followed. If you do not follow part of the divorce order, you could face serious consequences. If your former spouse refuses to follow a custody, child support, or spousal support order, you can request enforcement from the court. There are many different ways the court can go about enforcing the order including:
- Holding the offending party in contempt of court;
- Imposing fines and other penalties, including jail time;
- Issuing garnishments or liens to collect unpaid support; and
- Pursuing criminal charges for interference with custody.
Sometimes you may encounter circumstances that make the existing order difficult or impossible to follow. Oftentimes, there are legal defenses that can be presented to the court to excuse or mitigate your lack of compliance with the court order.
Fortunately, whether you are seeking to enforce a court order or defending against an enforcement procedure, the family courts provide you with options for relief and recourse. You should never try to take enforcement into your own hands by withholding visitation rights, child support, or by any other means. Instead, you should discuss your legal options for enforcement with a qualified family law attorney.
Modification of a Custody or Support Order
Even if you and the other parent agree on an initial parenting and visitation schedule, life is unpredictable and circumstances may change that make the schedule impractical or even impossible. If you and the other parent agree on the changes, you should sit down with your experienced attorney to draft a modification agreement. This agreement should be submitted to the court for ratification of the agreement. This protects you from claims that you wrongfully failed to abide by the original parenting plan. If you cannot agree on the changes, you will have to petition the court to modify the plan. In order to have the modification approved under Florida law, you will generally have to demonstrate the following:
- There has been a substantial change in circumstances warranting the modification;
- The change was unanticipated at the time of the initial parenting agreement; and
- The modification is the best interest of the children.
Modification of a support order generally requires a showing that there has been a substantial change in circumstances for either the payor or the payee. Some changes that may warrant a support modification include:
- Loss of a job or new employment;
- Involuntary increase or decrease in income;
- Disability or retirement; and
- Increase or decrease in the child’s needs.
Contact an Experienced Family Lawyer for Assistance
At the law firm of KM Welsh, P.A., we have helped many parents and former spouses enforce orders, modify orders or defend against an enforcement or modification proceeding. Kathryn Welsh is a Board Certified and AV rated family attorney who can explore different options such as mediation or negotiation to resolve any issues. Please call today at 727-586-7088 for help.