Child custody agreements are often changed by the courts and parents as circumstances change and as children get older and their needs evolve. Two terms that often get confused are “appeal” and “modification.” It’s important to know the difference.

Most child custody agreements are worked out by the parents, with the help of their attorneys. A judge will then approve the agreement they’ve worked out. If a parent wants to make a change to that agreement later, they wouldn’t generally appeal it — unless they believe there was an error in the agreement. They can, however, go to court and seek a modification.

Usually, circumstances need to have changed or at least some time must have elapsed before a judge will grant a modification. For example, perhaps your child was living full-time with your co-parent because you didn’t have an extra bedroom. You’ve moved into a larger home with a bedroom your child can make their own, keep some belongings and spend the night. You may want to seek a shared custody arrangement.

If you and your co-parent weren’t able to reach a child custody agreement on your own and a judge had to determine the custody arrangement, then a parent who disagreed with that decision could appeal it. There are time limits in which that needs to be done.

Filing an appeal requires demonstrating to the judge that the decision they made didn’t consider all the facts or perhaps that the circumstances weren’t accurately presented. It’s essential to build a strong case if you’re appealing a judge’s ruling.

Whether you’re seeking an appeal or a modification of your custody order, your Florida family law attorney can help you present your case effectively. The primary consideration for the court will be what’s in the best interests of your child.