In Florida, divorced parents must have a Parenting Plan.
Long gone are the visitation schedules and the designations of “primary” and “secondary” residential parents.
In 2008, the Florida Legislature completely overhauled the custody statute which impacted how visitation and custody issues would be decided. Those changes continue to be the basis by which the courts decide parenting time.
Today, both parents begin at a more equal footing in determining the time-sharing each of them have with their child or children. This more equitable starting point is consistent with what was occurring in the psychological community as well.
While some think this means that the court starts with the presumption that “equal” or “50/50” parenting time is in the child(ren)’s best interest; that is not the case. Our judiciary assesses parenting time on a case-by-case basis after reviewing the facts of the case in context of the 22 custody factors set forth in Florida Stat. 61.13(3). The court looks at many factors while determining a Parenting Plan. The Court looks at these statutory factors to determine which Parenting Plan is in the best interest of your child or children.
Two examples include “the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship” and “the demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues”.
At Long & Associates, P.A., we encourage our clients to communicate with their spouse in a healthy and constructive manner so that co-parenting skills are developed and the children benefit from parents working together for their children’s best interest.
Children are most positively affected when parents can put aside their differences and cooperate post-divorce on what their children need. Thus, we encourage parents to act civilly and respectfully with one another so they can make decisions for their children together with reduced conflict.
However, if parents cannot effectively communicate in making shared decisions for their children or if disputes arise on time-sharing schedules, our attorneys will zealously advocate on our client’s behalf so the court can determine what is in the best interest of the children. Our attorneys are well-versed in advocating children’s issues in the courtroom for temporary hearings and at trial. We also have vast experience in Naples and throughout Florida working with parenting evaluators, counselors, guardian ad litems, and others.
Your children, and the impact the litigation has on them is at the forefront of every case. Our attorneys use Parenting Plans to address the most important issues you see affecting your children during this most difficult time, while individually crafting agreements to provide direction and resolutions to disputes that impact your children’s lives into adulthood.
Our Parenting Plans also focus on how decisions are made for your children’s benefit including decision-making authority of both parents regarding important aspects of their lives, such as medical/dental care, education and religious beliefs. The majority of cases are concluded with each parent having an equal decision-making authority about major decisions impacting your child(ren)’s life.
There are rare occasions when Sole Parental Responsibility or Ultimate Decision-Making Authority is granted by the court, but there is a heavy burden of proof that must first be met. In those instances, the court could award one parent either sole-decision making authority, or he or she is granted authority to make the final decision on an issue regarding your children.
If you have any questions about your children’s future and the impact of the divorce on their lives, please contact us so that we may discuss them with you and formulate the best plan of action to protect them.