It is important to know your rights following a divorce. The final judgment of dissolution and the parenting plan determine the legal playing field for the future. However, most issues are dynamic. Children get older and their schools change and sometimes their relationship with parents change. Incomes change, which can directly impact child support and people sometimes desire to relocate where child custody can be an issue. There are a myriad of circumstances that should be re-evaluated following divorce.
In Florida, the standard used to file an action to modify a final judgment is that a substantial change in circumstances occurred that was not anticipated at the time of entry of the final judgment. It does not always make practical sense to file an action to modify a final judgment just because a party can do so. The relationship that a party has with a former spouse is important, especially where children are involved. Every time a party considers filing a supplemental petition (this is the instrument filed requesting modification of a final judgment), one should consider how such will impact their relationship with their former spouse and other legal consequences. I frequently have parties coming to me that wish to file for a modification. I typically find that they have only evaluated a part of the effect of seeking a modification. For this reason, it is imperative that one review the ramifications of an action for modification with an experienced family law attorney.
Although a divorce is designed to deal with all of the legal issues concerning dissolution, the reality is that there are sometimes issues that are left unresolved. On occasion there are assets that neither party put on their financial affidavits that require addressing post dissolution. One example of such an issue involved a divorce of a long time married couple in which neither party included the child’s prepaid college fund account on their financial affidavit. The fund was cashed out by the Father/Former Husband after the divorce without permission from the court or the Mother/Former Wife. Since the asset was not listed on either party’s financial affidavit, the judge considered the asset marital property and ordered the Former Husband to pay back one half of the funds post dissolution.