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Modification of Custody Time-Sharing and New Partner of Divorced Parent
By Orlando Family Lawyer Eduardo J. Mejias
Practicing Exclusively Family Law Since 2011
The Distrust of New Partners of Divorced Parents
A desire to reduce the time-sharing days of the other parent because he or she has begun living with a new and distrusted partner is a recurring event in modifications of divorce parenting plans. Since I started practicing family law in 2013 I have observed this recurring phenomenon. What was an amicable co-parenting relationship now becomes filled with distrust and acrimony. One parent will demand to know everything about this new person, or worse, take away time-sharing from the other parent under the guise of protecting the child from the “dangerous” newcomer.
Most New Partner Arguments Are Not Very Persuasive to a Family Court Judge
Of all the reasons for modifying time-sharing, the “new partner argument” has to be the least persuasive. One of my clients endured a challenge to her equal time-sharing based almost entirely on her new husband’s behavior. The opposing counsel had also mentioned a couple of distant events that were not related to her new husband, but the majority of their petition for modification relied on allegations about the “new guy”.
This and related arguments did not persuade the judge. Basically, the former husband and father of the children did not approve of him, and wanted to strip away the child custody time-sharing from my client.
Changes In Circumstances Prior to Parenting Plan Do Not Matter in Modifications
The presiding judge explained that first and foremost, the former husband had already known about most of the new husband’s minor criminal offenses prior to signing the original parenting plan. Needless to say, at the trial the family law judge rejected this argument and maintained the original 50-50 parenting plan (even though she did order that a parenting coordinator mediate future parenting disputes).
As the judge wisely pointed out, a family law litigant cannot agree to a parenting plan knowing certain facts, and then allege those same facts as reasons to modify it in the future. In short, all changes of circumstances that justify modifying a parenting plan must occur after the execution or issuance of that plan.
And Changes In Circumstances Have to Be Substantial
In addition the judge declared that the post-judgment events cited by my opposing family law attorney simply were not the “substantial changes of circumstances” that are required for modifying a parenting plan. For these changes to be substantial, the presence of a new significant other must have actually had a negatively impacting the children. Only that could justify a change in the time-sharing schedule. Mere “concerns” are not enough.
The changes cited were that my client’s new husband had also been charged with a post-final judgment criminal offense and her former husband relied heavily on this argument. While the judge expressed concern about this more recent offense, she emphasized that all of the evidence indicated that the stepfather still enjoyed a close and healthy relationship with my client’s two children. Furthermore, the children had not displayed any adverse effects from living with my client’s husband, or from the 50-50 parenting plan. Therefore, the changes in circumstances were not substantial.
How to Get Help
If you have any questions about modifying a parenting plan, please call me at (407) 260-6001 and schedule a consultation by phone or at our office in Altamonte Springs.
At the consultation I will: (1) listen carefully to your description of the parenting plan modification, (2) propose a legal action plan to achieve your objectives and (3) quote you a fixed retainer fee for my services before you make any payments or sign any contract, not an hourly rate with an unpredictable total cost.
This is the range of retainer fees for modifications of parenting plans. The amount of the actual fee within this rage will depend on the degree of complexity of your case.
Post-Judgment Modification of Decrees: $1,800 - $3,000.
You also will also need pay a $50 court cost.
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AAA Family Law
283 Cranes Roost Blvd., Suite 111
Altamonte Springs, Florida 32701
AAA Family Law is located in Altamonte Springs and serves clients throughout the Orlando Metro Area including, but not limited to, the following cities and unincorporated areas, by county: Orange County: Apopka, Bay Lake, Maitland, Ocoee, Orlando, Union Park, Winter Garden, and Winter Park; Seminole County: Altamonte Springs, Casselberry, Lake Mary, Longwood, Oviedo, Sanford, and Winter Springs; Volusia County: Daytona Beach, DeBary, DeLand, Deltona, and Orange City; Lake County: Clermont, Leesburg, and Mount Dora; Osceola County: Buena Ventura Lakes, Celebration, and Kissimmee; Orange, Lake, Osceola, and Polk Counties: Four Corners; Orange and Seminole Counties: Goldenrod.