Modifying Child Custody Under Florida’s New Law
July 1, 2023 marked the date that many new laws in Florida went into effect, having been passed by the legislature and signed by the governor in the months prior. If you are co-parenting a child with your ex and have a child custody order in place, House Bill 1301 might affect your rights. The measure addresses modifications to parenting plans and timesharing, a process that is governed by statute. Whether it is you or your ex who is seeking to modify, the proceedings are slightly different than under prior law.
There are numerous requirements for modifying child custody, and some of the issues are just as complicated as when your initial child custody order was entered. It is wise to work with a Dade City child custody attorney who stays current on the laws and will help navigate the process. An overview of the new law on parenting plans and timesharing is also informative.
Modifications and Unanticipated Factors: The Florida statute on modifying child custody requires that the parent seeking the modification prove that it is necessary because of a substantial, material change in circumstances. The change may be due to a variety of factors.
Under the previous version of the law, it was also necessary for the parent seeking modification to prove that the change in circumstances was “unanticipated.” The updated statute removes this criteria, so it is irrelevant whether the party foresaw the need to make changes.
Rebuttable Presumption on Equal Timesharing: The prior law did not include any stated preference on a timesharing schedule. Courts were required to apply the factors in the child’s best interests standard, and they still must review them as the law stands now.
However, the key change made by the recent legislation is that there is a rebuttable presumption that equal timesharing is in the best interests of the child. This is the default rule a judge uses when modifying custody, but it can be overcome if the parent against modification can rebut the presumption. That party will have to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that equal timesharing is NOT in the child’s best interests. A preponderance generally means the claim is more than 50 percent likely to be true.
Relocation as Material Change: Under the new legislation, a parent who is moving closer to the child does not need separate proof of a substantial, material change in circumstances. By relocating to within 50 miles of the child’s residence, the parent automatically establishes the standard necessary to modify. The court will review the child’s best interests to set a new parenting plan and timesharing schedule.
Talk to a Florida Child Custody Lawyer About Details
This summary is useful, but keep in mind that modifications to parenting plans and timesharing can also be accomplished by agreement. To learn more about your options, please contact The Law Office of Laurie R. Chane. Individuals in Pasco County can call 352-567-0055 or visit our website to set up a consultation.