Litigation After Divorce. Do You Know Your Rights?

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.

A post divorce review of a party’s issues might involve attempting to remove a spouse’s name from an asset where such could result in an unintended liability or unintended record of ownership.  Other actions may be aimed at protecting a party’s credit post dissolution.  By notifying creditors about a dissolution where one party is responsible for a particular debt, a former spouse may have the ability to be notified when the obligor is late in paying.  Where an opposing party is not making timely payments on an item as required in the final judgment, a knowledgeable attorney may be able to seek return of the asset, a civil judgment, or have the court impose penalties for failing to meet the requirements of a court order.

Child support is one of the most frequent reasons that parties file for modification.  It is imperative that one keep accurate records reflecting payments received or made for child support.  An experienced attorney may advise a party to seek a civil judgment to collect monies owed on occasion.  It is just as important to keep correct records of expenses that are reimbursable.  Such may help document substantial changes that are the result of children’s increased needs.  A critically important issue as it relates to child support involves keeping track of the number of overnights that a parent exercises.  Child support is calculated by factoring in overnights that each parent is responsible for.  This circumstances is one of the few where retroactive adjustments are allowed.  A parent that fails to take advantage of the timesharing provided for in the parenting plan can have their child support retroactively adjusted to reflect their actual timesharing.  An experienced family law attorney should be able to review the tax implications of child support, as well.

There are various circumstances where post divorce timesharing requires adjustment, which then affects child support.  A frequent issue can involve a parent that seeks relocation for a job.  F.S. 61.13001 (the Florida Parental Relocation Act) dictates how parents can legally seek to relocate themselves and or their children.  In short, a parent normally needs to prove that a relocation is in the best interest of the child or children unless the relocation is consented to by the other parent.  It is sometime necessary to renegotiate timesharing or to reassess timesharing and child support.  An attorney that is familiar with the nuances of Florida Child Support Law can be invaluable in assisting you in negotiating a fair custody and child support adjustment.  Florida post dissolution issues can be complex and consultation with a family law attorney can have a positive impact on any modification sought.  Numerous family situations call for an evaluation as to whether or not modification makes sense in particular circumstances.

About the author

Neil Weinreb is a licensed Florida attorney who has been practicing family law for over 15 years in North Florida.  Mr. Weinreb works for the Law Office of David M. Goldman in Jacksonville, Florida.  Mr. Weinreb has worked as an adjunct professor teaching law to paralegal students at Jones College in Jacksonville, Florida.  You can contact Mr. Weinreb at the Law Office of David M. Goldman for a free initial consultation today to find out how having an experienced attorney on your side can help.  Call (904) 685-1200 today.  Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, 4115 Hendricks Ave., Jacksonville, Florida 32207.  Telephone (904) 685-1200.



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