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What does a "material change in circumstances" mean?

Labelle, FL |

I have shared rotating custody of my 2 kids with my ex. We have equal amount of over nights. He has been dating a girl since June 2012, and they're about to get married in January. He said once he marries her hes going to take me to court to change our custody agreement, so that our kids are only with me every other wknd. He said since he will have a 2 parent home, and I'm single, then his home environment is better and more stable. And his girlfriend works for the school board so they wont have to go to after school care if they live with him. Is what he said true? Will i loose time with my kids just b/c he remarries?

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Attorney answers 3


This is most definitely a question for your attorney who will be responsible for helping you. Many factors. Family law is very fact intensive, and not really a good subject to try to discuss on the internet.

No attorney-client relationship implied or accepted without a signed fee agreement. This response is theoretical only and for purposes of discussion. Attorney is not liable for any opinion expressed herein.


The proper legal phrase in Florida is "substantial change of circumstances," though many lawyers and judges use the more precise phrase, "unanticipated, material, substantial change of circumstances." I'm not sure that there is any real difference between the words "substantial" and "material" in this context, but anyway, the phrase defines the standard needed for a judge to change a court-ordered timeshare in Florida. What constitutes a "substantial change of circumstances," is complex, and many judges and lawyers even disagree, but none of the things you've described would qualify--even added together--to be a "substantial change of circumstances."

The contents of this answer should be considered friendly advice, not legal advice (I'm a pretty friendly guy), and the answer should not be construed to constitute an attorney-client relationship. If you'd like actual legal advice, call me for a free consultation at 813-635-0222. Also, if you liked this answer as much as my big ego thinks you did, be sure to click the thumbs-up button!


It should have been anticipated by both parties that either could start another relationship after the separation. Anticipated changes are not unexpected. That being said, the Court has wide discretion in deciding what amounts to a sufficient change. An experienced family law attorney would be able to help you navigate the factors.

Chris Mulligan
Law Office of Christopher S. Mulligan
161 E. Jefferson St.
Brooksville, FL 34601
(352) 593-5990

This is only general advice and should not be considered a specific legal assessment of your case or advice that would create an attorney-client relationship. For a consultation contact our office at (352) 593-5990.

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