Marital and Family Law Attorney

Child Custody (Timesharing) Modification

Family Law Attorney Representing People in the Miami Area

Life often changes for parents and children after a divorce, and timesharing agreements may need to be modified to reflect these changes. Whether you want to make modifications together as co-parents or you want to request changes on your own, you should reach out to a skilled Miami child custody attorney without delay. Attorney Sandy T. Fox is a Florida Bar Board Certified specialist in Marital & Family Law who can help you navigate the family law process. Obtaining a child custody modification can be a challenging battle, and having the right attorney on your side can make a difference in your case.

Child Custody Modifications in Florida

Under Florida law, child custody and visitation matters are known as “timesharing” agreements. Timesharing designates the schedule for when the child spends time with each parent. “Parental responsibility,” on the other hand, indicates who has the right to make decisions about key issues in a child’s life, such as the child’s education, religion, and medical decisions. The goal of creating a timesharing plan and a parenting plan is to provide a sense of security, predictability, and routine for the child.

Timesharing or parental responsibility orders cannot be modified whenever a parent wants. A modification of a parenting plan or timesharing schedule requires showing that there has been a “substantial, material and unanticipated change of circumstances” since the entry of the last order, and the modification is in the best interest of the child. In other words, a timesharing modification must be necessary because the existing order is no longer viable, the circumstances of the family have changed, and the change will be beneficial to the child.

As mentioned earlier, all timesharing determinations in Florida are based on the “best interest of the child” standard. This is a broad discretion that allows a judge to consider any factor relevant to the child’s overall health, safety, and well-being. Some examples of factors that a judge may consider include the child’s physical health and safety, the child’s emotional needs, each parent’s ability and willingness to co-parent, the preferences of the child, the mental and physical health of each parent, and any other factor that may be relevant. When it comes to a child custody modification, however, the family law judge will not even consider the question of the best interest of your child until the substantial change of circumstances standard has been satisfied.

In Florida, a judge must approve a timesharing modification. The person seeking the modification files a petition in court. The judge then holds a hearing to decide whether there has been a substantial change in circumstances that warrants revisiting the parenting plan. A few examples of potential changes may include:

  • The child living in a potentially harmful situation;
  • A parent refusing to follow the current plan (although this will not be rewarded by making a modification according to that parent’s preferences);
  • The unfitness of a parent;
  • One parent relocating;
  • A criminal conviction of one parent;
  • Changes in the needs of the child (i.e., health, education, extracurricular activities); or
  • A job change of a parent that allows them to spend more or less time with the child.

In some cases, a timesharing order can be modified ex parte (without a full hearing) when there is an emergency. The standard for what constitutes an emergency is extremely high, and such a motion will only be successful when the child is in serious and imminent danger of abuse or neglect.

Contact a Knowledgeable Child Custody Lawyer in Miami or Surrounding Cities

Changing a timesharing agreement can be a challenging process, but you do not need to deal with it on your own. Whether you want to be more involved in your child’s life, or you want to protect your child from a change that you think would be detrimental, we can help. At the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, our Miami attorneys are committed to helping you resolve your issues in a productive and thorough manner. We represent people in Miami, Aventura, Hollywood, and other cities in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, as well as elsewhere in South Florida. For more information about your legal rights and options, do not hesitate to call us at 800.596.0579 or contact us online.