Under what conditions can a custody agreement be changed?

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Under what conditions can a custody agreement be changed?

My ex and I have had an existing 50/50 custody agreement for the last 2 years and now she wishes to change it so that she can put our daughter into an early learning center. I did not agree to this so she has turned to her lawyer. I received a letter yesterday saying that the custody agreement was under the preface that I was entering the military last year. I decided not to go because I wanted to stay with my daughter. They are saying they want to change the agreement for the development and social abilities of our daughter. What are my options?

Asked on August 5, 2011 Florida

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Florida has very strict rules about modifying child custody agreements.  The statutes are upheld in case law.  The court tend to uphold the original custody order and it is not to be modified absent these specific factors. First, there must be a change in circumstances that was unforseen at the time of the original order.  As most courts prefer joint custody be given to parents (joint for the purposes of making decisions about their lives) I doubt that the fact that you decided not to go in to the military is a very good argument here.  If you have contested your wife having the sole right to decision making I think that the court would have decided for you on the matter absent extraordinary circumstances.  Second the change in circumstances must be "material" and "substantial."  this will require that your wife provide unbelieveable proof to support the change.  This is not an easy task.  Third, only after the burden of proof that there has been a substantial and material change in circumstances has been met, may the court decide whether a custody modification is in the "best interests of the child."  Get help.  Good luck.


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