Modification of Child Custody and Visitation will only be granted where there is a substantial, unanticipated, material, change in circumstances and where a modification is in the best interests of the children. In D.M.J v. A.J.T a final judgment was entered by the trial court in 2011. A parenting plan was incorporated into the final judgment. The parenting plan provided that when the parties' child was old enough to attend kindergarten the parents would decide where the child should go to school. If the parties were unable to decide, the matter was supposed to be mediates. Four years later, the mother alleged in her supplemental petition for modification of timesharing that the father had moved 25 miles from where he lived when the final judgment was entered. The mother alleged that this created a substantial change in circumstances that warranted a modification of timesharing. The Mother requested additional timesharing, increased child support, a designation as the ultimate decision maker for issues involving the child's education. The trial court granted the Mother's supplemental petition. The father appealed the trial court's order.
The Florida Court of Appeal held that in a Modification of Child Custody and Visitation proceeding, the petitioning party has the extraordinary burden of proving the existence of a substantial change of circumstances. The Court held that a change of address is not a material change if the change does not involve a significant distance (more than 45 miles) from the child's current location. Finally, when a final judgment reserves jurisdiction to determine which school children should attend and the parents can not agree, the Court must make that decision for the children based upon the children's best interests. The best interests of the children may warrant the modification of time sharing . In reaching this determination concerning timesharing, the court should take into account the children's relationship with their siblings.
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