by Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida
In Palm Beach County, Florida, once the divorce is over and a final judgment is entered, there are certain aspects of the divorce that are literally carved in stone. Equitable distribution of assets and debts, once decided, and unless taken up to the appellate court, are final. If a judge made an error of fact or law in considering the equitable distribution of assets or debts of the marriage, the flawed final judgment must go up on appeal rather quickly. You have 10 days to file for a rehearing, and then 30 days to file a notice of appeal. If there is no error of fact or law, then the equitable distribution scheme is set in stone. The parties must follow the intent of the order by transferring assets, title, or rolling over retirement plans. The parties must pay the debts assigned to each of them and hold the other party harmless from creditors. Enforcement and contempt proceedings are the recourse against a disobeying ex spouse.
However, certain parts of a final judgment of dissolution of marriage or a divorce decree are modifiable under the right set of circumstances. This includes anything to do with children, and the award of alimony. Things that can be modified by the court AFTER a final divorce decree is entered include: child support, time sharing, shared parental responsibility, health insurance for the children, uncovered medical bills, and alimony.
The ex spouse wishing to modify the final judgment must allege a material, substantial, unanticipated, change of circumstances since the time of final judgment. Typical changes of circumstances include a loss of employment, sickness, increased income of the ex spouse, change of work schedules, and other substantial changes in the lives of the parties. These allegations of changed circumstances need to be set forth in a petition to modify and filed with the court. The proceedings require the exchange of updated financial information by the parties, a mediation session where the matter may be settled by agreed order, or a visit to the judge with proof and evidence of the need for the modification. Modifications can be tricky to achieve. For more information, call one of the divorce lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561 835 9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at http://www.familylawwpb.com for more information.