Frequently Asked Questions
Legal matters are complex. Questions about any post-judgment issues that may arise are fact intensive. If you have questions or concerns about your specific circumstances, it is strongly recommended that you speak with a qualified Florida family law attorney.
The information on this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
What is a post-judgment issue?
Post-judgment issues are events that occur or circumstances that arise after a final judgment resolving the initial case has been entered. Post-judgment issues include enforcement, contempt, or modification and can involve changes to child support, alimony, or timesharing.
Does something have to be filed with the court every time a situation arises after a final judgment has been entered?
No. The answer of how to handle a post-judgment situation or event will depend on the situation or event. Each case is unique. Many times post-judgment issues can be resolved through alternative dispute resolution processes such as parent coordination and mediation.
If you have questions or concerns about how to handle your specific circumstances, it is recommended that you speak with a qualified Florida family law attorney.
What is “enforcement”?
An enforcement action is one where a party has failed to abide by the terms and conditions of a contract or a final judgment. The other party may then ask the court to enter an order requiring the violating party to abide by those terms and conditions. Typically, enforcement actions involve making sure a party complies with a transfer of an asset, payment of money, or timesharing conflict.
What is “contempt”?
Contempt is “[a] refusal to obey any legal order, mandate or decree, made or given by any judge relative to any of the business of the court, after due notice thereof…” Fla. Stat. § 38.23 (2014). It is “any act which is calculated to embarrass, hinder, or obstruct the court in the administration of justice, or which is calculated to lessen its authority or its dignity.” Milian v. State, 764 So. 2d 860, 861 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000).
The court’s unique contempt powers exist so the court may “protect itself against those who disregard its dignity and authority or disobey its orders,” In re Inquiry Concerning Perry, 641 So. 2d 366 (Fla. 1994), and because “the interests of orderly government demand that respect and compliance be given to orders issued by courts possessed of jurisdiction of persons and subject matter.” Parisi v. Broward County, 769 So. 2d 359 (Fla. 2000) (citing U.S. v. United Mine Workers, 330 U.S. 258, 303 (1947)).
There are two distinct types of contempt – civil contempt and criminal contempt. Civil contempt is designed for the court to obtain compliance with a particular court order whereas criminal contempt is designed to punish. It is possible for the same conduct to result in both civil and criminal contempt charges.
Civil and criminal contempt can be either direct or indirect. Direct contempt is committed in the court’s immediate presence while indirect contempt is committed outside the court’s presence.
There are differing procedures to be followed depending on the type of contempt sought. Certain matters are not eligible for a contempt proceeding.
Contempt proceedings are fact-specific and can be difficult to prove. If you have any questions about whether a contempt proceeding would be appropriate for your situation and, if so, what the type of contempt, you should speak with a qualified Florida family law attorney.
What is “modification”?
A modification is when a party seeks to permanently change a final court order or judgment.
Parenting Plan Orders
In Florida, orders relating to the decision making authority and parenting time with minor children are called “Parenting Plans.” Many other states and laws refer to these types of orders as “child custody” orders.
In Florida, a presumption in favor of the reasonableness of a final judgment exists to promote “finality of the judicial determination of the custody of children.” A Florida court cannot change a final parenting plan unless the party seeking to modify the order meets a two pronged test: (1) that a substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances has occurred since entry of the final order; and (2) that the modification sought is in the best interests of the minor child(ren).
Relocation is a unique type of parenting plan modification which has its own statute and its own procedures to be followed. Relocation is defined as “a change in the location of the principal residence of a parent or other person from his or her principal place of residence at the time of the last order establishing or modifying time-sharing, or at the time of filing the pending action to establish or modify time-sharing. The change of location must be at least 50 miles from that residence, and for at least 60 consecutive days not including a temporary absence from the principal residence for purposes of vacation, education, or the provision of health care for the child.” Fla. Stat. § 61.13001(1)(e). Click here to read Florida’s relocation statute.
Parenting plan modification proceedings are fact-specific. You should speak with a qualified Florida family law attorney if you have any questions about whether a modification proceeding would be appropriate for your situation.
Equitable distribution is the division of assets and liabilities; it is the court’s determination of each party’s property rights. “Generally, a court has no jurisdiction to modify property rights after an adjudication of those rights has been made in the judgment of dissolution.” Colvin v. Colvin, 403 So. 2d 490, 492 (Fla. 3d DCA 1981).
You should direct any questions you may have about the property division of your divorce to a qualified Florida family law attorney.
Fla. Stat. § 61.14 addresses modifications of alimony.
Not all alimony awards are able to be modified. For example: Parties may agree to make an alimony award non-modifiable or modifiable in only certain circumstances. Furthermore, Fla. Stat. § 61.08(5) (2014) provides that a bridge-the-gap alimony award is not modifiable in amount or duration.
When an alimony award is modifiable, typically, a party seeking modification of an alimony award must show a substantial, unanticipated, involuntary, and permanent change in circumstances occurred since entry of the final judgment for the court to be able to modify an existing final judgment.
Fla. Stat. § 61.14(1)(b) provides that alimony awards may be reduced or terminated upon a showing that the recipient spouse has entered into a supportive relationship. Click here to read the statute.
Modification of alimony awards is fact-specific. You should consult with a qualified Florida family law attorney with questions related to your particular situation.
Child support is always modifiable. The courts have an inherent authority to modify child support regardless of any agreements between the parties.
A parent seeking modification of a child support amount must prove that a substantial, material, involuntary, and permanent change in circumstances has occurred that results in a change of the amount of child support pursuant to Florida’s child support guidelines by at least 10 percent but not less than $25. Fla. Stat. § 61.14 (1)(c).
Pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 61.13(1)(a)1.a., the parents’ child support obligation terminates on a child’s 18th birthday unless special circumstances exist or the parties agree otherwise. Click here to read Fla. Stat. § 743.07 describing circumstances in which a child may be entitled to support beyond his/her 18th birthday.
Modification and termination of child support is fact-specific. You should consult with a qualified Florida family law attorney with questions about your particular situation.