One of any parent’s greatest fears in divorcing a spouse can be the loss of custody and contact with their children. Many new clients assume that it’s a win-lose situation. They will either get primary custody of the children or the other parent will be awarded primary custody, with the losing parent being relegated to a back seat status as the “secondary” parent visiting every other weekend. Not so under current Florida law.
In fact, Florida divorce statutes no longer even use the terms “custody” or “primary” or “secondary” residential parent, or even “visitation”. The law has finally caught up with current approaches to child rearing. Florida law now acknowledges the importance to the child of continuing meaningful involvement by both parents after a divorce. The general presumption is that both parents will enjoy shared care and responsibility for their children. Both parents will share time with their children either equally or in a manner that meets the best interests of the children, based on the particular facts of each case.
If you and your divorcing spouse can agree to shared parenting and establish a time-sharing plan that is fair to both parents and meets the best interests of the children, you will be well on your way to a more amicable and less expensive divorce. Your agreement can be reflected in the written parenting plan that must be approved by the court in any divorce case involving minor children.
But be careful with the content of your parenting plan. Court approved parenting plans are legally binding documents that can be difficult to modify at a later date. You want your parenting plan to be specific enough so that each parent clearly understands his or her parenting role and responsibilities, yet flexible enough to allow for change and new circumstances as your children grow older. Timesharing that works well for your current job hours and day-care schedule may be completely unsuitable if your job changes or when your toddler starts attending regular school. Expenses incurred for your children will certainly change as they grow older.
Because a court approved parenting plan is the blueprint that will legally guide your parenting responsibilities until your children are adults, a highly experienced family law attorney should prepare it. Jeanne Coleman has practiced family law in the Tampa Bay community for over twenty-five years. She is thoroughly familiar with the legal requirements that must be satisfied in your parenting plan. She has the deep experience necessary to guide you in preparing an excellent parenting plan that will work for your particular family for many years to come. Call her office today for a free 20-minute consultation.