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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    5

    Default When Will a Change in Circumstances Warrant a Change in a Custody Order

    My question involves a child custody case from the State of: FL

    I have been divorced since 2007 and have 4 children, 3 of which are minors. My ex attempted to take me back to court early in the year, and we ended up with a modification after mediation. Since mediation he has not met any of the terms of the agreement while I have, and has now repetitioned for mediation again with false allegations. We have ordered 50/50 custody with a set schedule, including holidays. It also includes him paying half of medical bills and sports activities, which he has refused to pay. No exchange of child support. Now he has taken a promotion that interferes with the set schedule and will not be home with our children during the time he is to have them as he works nights. He is leaving them with his live-in girlfriend, who has refused to meet me in the past 2 years (and had a DCF investigation against her for physically handling my youngest). He often will leave the children home alone for hours unsupervised (ages 9, 12, 14- Florida has no law against this). Frequently I will have the kids for 2-3 week stretches, which obviously does not equate to 50/50.
    I would like to pursue full custody with e/o weekend for him (pretty much what we do now) and seek child support, also enforce his payments for medical and sports as previously agreed. I do not want the children home alone with the girlfriend at night due to multiple issues in the home (there are also her 3 children in the home). I had an attorney but can no longer afford one after spending over $7000 and having no cooperation from him with the modification he initiated. Is is possible to seek full custody and child support and are there resources available for affordable law services? My family is advising that I meet his demands for money and let everything else go so as to not spend more money, but the way I see it, I still have a long road ahead of me with this. My kids have not been able to participate in many activities because of his refusal to allow it and his refusal to communicate with me. He is not involved in their school or sports, and as I said, is often not even home with the kids during "his time". I just want the best for my kids. I would appreciate any advice, thank you in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: When Will a Change in Circumstances Warrant a Change in Court Order

    First... I am not an attorney... I do not work in law or social services, nor am I familiar with Florida laws/courts... just throwing out some things to think about.

    1) Have you been documenting exactly when you have the kids and when he has the kids? I used to do this in a little day planner.
    2) Have you been documenting expenses that you have paid... keeping up with receipts/paperwork? Do you have proof that you have presented the expenses to him and asked for reimbursement? I would have something in writing there... e-mails requesting reimbursement with copies of the receipts, etc attached. Or if e-mails are not admissable as evidence... then send it certified mail. Something showing that you have made him aware of the expenses and have asked for reimbursement.
    3) As far as I have read... he is allowed to have a competent adult pick up / drop off the kids and watch them. You do not have to meet that adult. (Though I understand the desire to do so.) It's no different than if he was dropping the kids off at a daycare... he does not have to get your okay on which daycare he chooses... if that makes sense. Having a DCF investigation really doesn't mean anything. Anyone can have a complaint made against them and a case opened. Charges would mean something. Now... if the kids are being abused... have you documented that with photos, doctor's statements, etc? Did the DCF folks "find" anything of concern? If so, they will have that documented. Leaving the kids unsupervised... you said it's not against the law. I don't think it matters if you like it or not. (Not being snarky... just playing devil's advocate.)

    Personally... (as I stated, I have no professional knowledge in this area) I think the only real thing you have is if he is not getting the kids when he is supposed to. Document that. Not sure if a judge will give you full custody... may end up just getting onto him and "scare" him into getting the kids when he is supposed to. Which then means the kids would be staying more with the girlfriend you don't like. But... the judge could side in your favor. Just another perspective and some things to consider. Good luck.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    604

    Default Re: When Will a Change in Circumstances Warrant a Change in Court Order

    If his main concern in negotiations with you is money (which I believe is true in some cases, but not every one in which one parent claims that of the other.... My daughter's mother tried to say the same thing about me, which was wrong for so many reasons... Anyway, I have digressed a bit), and he is willing to agree to a new custody order with the time sharing you've described and no child support, then you should definitely do that and get it in writing. You can always "change your mind" about asking for support after the time share is already in writing and signed by a judge. Child support is often the easiest thing that can be modified.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    576

    Default Re: When Will a Change in Circumstances Warrant a Change in Court Order

    What you are asking for could probably be done by a good attorney. However it is unlikely you can do it yourself, and that kind of litigation is beyond the scope of what any free legal services will provide.

    50/50 is only viable when parents can work reasonably well together in the best interests of their children, and is often more manageable when the children are young. It appears that in this case 50/50 physical is no longer workable and in their best interests, and the court may decide to modify this to a more traditional arrangement where one parent is the primary custodian, and the other is relegated to a set possession and visitation schedule, and ordered to pay child support.

    If you are both without an attorney, it is unlikely the court will approve an Order in which you have primary custody and the father NOT be responsible for child support, and if it does, it is unlikely you will simply be able to "change your mind" later over child support.

    A good attorney, while expensive upfront, will more than likely pay for itself in short order if the attorney is successful in getting custody changed and child support ordered. It is highly unlikely that you trying to do this on your own will accomplish this.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: When Will a Change in Circumstances Warrant a Change in Court Order

    I appreciate all the responses, thank you very much for your time. I have been thinking about this and trying to see his side, determine my goals, and work towards a solution with him. I am in the process of trying to find another attorney to handle the case. I expected him to follow the mediated agreement he signed (silly me!) and I know that my only course of action is to further persue this legally as my attempts to work with him are unsuccessful.
    I have in the past handed copies of expenses to him only to have him say he never received them. I have now made copies to send via email, since he just last week started paying a few of the <$20 expenses ( I suspect since he reinitiated this with his attorney). I have also kept track of all dates I have kept the kids that were to be his.
    I understand completely about the girlfriend issues, etc. I appreciate someone playing devils advocate as that is the best way to look at this somtimes.
    I am seeking child support through the Dept of Revenue but have not heard back yet. He does make over $30xxx more than I do (and though it doesn't matter, shares expenses with his gf, while I am on my own) but can never contribute to any of the kids expenses, which is why I seek the support.

    I guess now I will allow it to go to mediation again and work from there. Is it ok to go to mediation without legal counsel or is that highly advised against?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    604

    Default Re: When Will a Change in Circumstances Warrant a Change in a Custody Order

    Some states allow attorneys to be involved during mediation, and some don't. I'd at least try to consult with one beforehand and come prepared. If Florida allows attorneys during mediation, it would be best to have one present. If he has one there, you probably shouldn't even consider the possibility of not having one there yourself. It is too easy to get strong armed by an opposing attorney without having someone who knows how to protect your rights there with you.

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