Child Custody Lawyers in Naples, Florida
Under Florida law, when couples divorce they are required to develop a plan for parenting their children. This plan, known as a Parenting Plan, outlines the amount of time each parent spends with the child(ren), how decisions will be made, and how holidays and other special occasions will be spent. Under Florida law, both parents have a right to play an active role in the upbringing of their children. This means that the courts seldom will approve a Parenting Plan that denies one parent contact with his or her child(ren).
Most Parenting Plans will include provisions for time-sharing, holiday time, and clarity about how major decisions for the children will be made. In a parenting plan, both parents will have to agree to the amount of time each parent enjoys with the children, otherwise the Court makes the decision. This can be one of the most difficult and emotionally fraught decisions you may make during your divorce proceeding. How you go about drafting a Parenting Plan can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case and a huge difference in your child(ren)’s lives. The courts utilize the best interests of the child standard when parents dispute time-sharing. However, families and children often fare better when parenting time is resolved amicably between the parties as it sets a more cooperative tone between the parents which inures to the child(ren)’s benefit. If you have questions about Parenting Plans, Shared Parental Responsibility or have unique circumstances that require some creativity in fashioning time-sharing for your family contact Long & Associates, P.A. in Naples, Florida today. Our firm works to help couples develop parenting plans outside of court, but we also are available to aggressively litigate when necessary.
What Should be Included in a Parenting Plan?
A Parenting Plan is a legal document that outlines time-sharing arrangements, specifies how holidays will be spent, and clarifies how major decisions will be made for the children. Before you begin drafting a Parenting Plan, it is important to understand the difference between Parenting Time and Shared Parental Responsibility. Parenting Time is exactly what it states, time that each parent will spend with the children. Shared Parental Responsibility has to do with making decisions regarding the children’s health, education and general welfare. After a divorce, parents may no longer reside in the same household, however, through the Parenting Plan and each parent making joint-decisions about the children’s well-being, under Shared Parental Responsibility.
However, there are many different types of parenting arrangements that can be made. Some parents who live close by each other may choose to have a shared parenting arrangement; also known as Equal Parenting Time. While this arrangement isn’t right for everyone, or every family situation, research has shown that it can ensure that the children enjoy a continued and sustained relationship with both parents. Even when both parents don’t equally share parenting time, arrangements can be made so that the children enjoy time with both parents. Whatever physical parenting arrangement you make, it is important to understand that the courts will want to see that the parenting plan includes time for the children to spend with both parents. Only in rare occasions will one parent be restricted from seeing the children. In cases of abuse or domestic violence, supervised or limitation parenting time may be required.
A Parenting Plan should include specifics about how holidays and school breaks will be split between both parents. In addition to this, the Parenting Plan should specify how children will be transported between each party’s residence. The Plan should also include specifics about how changes in plans should be handled.
Finally, a Parenting Plan should outline how decisions will be made on behalf of the children and the related financial responsibility of said care. It can be helpful to build some of the major decisions into the Parenting Plan itself. Which school the children will attend, which church or synagogue, and which doctors will be visited may be noted in the Parenting Plan. However, the plan should also include provisions for how disagreements will be handled.
It is important to get a Parenting Plan right the first time. It can be very difficult to change a Parenting Plan once one has been approved by the court. If you have very young children, it may be wise to develop a Parenting Plan that is flexible enough to grow with your children and your family. If you have questions about Parenting Plans, Shared Parental Responsibility and other related issues, contact Long & Associates, P.A. in Naples, Florida. Our experienced Family Law Attorneys will take the time to understand your family’s unique circumstances and help you develop the best possible Parenting Plan that will be approved by the courts. Leaving your children’s parenting issues up to a judge is often not the best idea because the judge may make a decision that neither party wants. This is why it is important to settle parenting issues outside of court with the help of an attorney. Contact Long & Associates, P.A., Family Law Attorneys in Naples, Florida today.
How are Parenting Plans Decided by the Court?
Courts design Parenting Plans every day and they do so based upon the best interests of the child. The judge will look at the evidence of each parent’s ability to care for his or her children, the home each parent can provide, and each parent’s stability. Mental and physical health may also be considered as well as past history of violence or drug or alcohol abuse. Judges tend to want to preserve as much sense of normalcy and continuity for the children. Decisions about parenting are very fact-intensive, complex and based on twenty-two statutory factors. If you are facing legal issues surrounding your children and your parenting time consider reaching out to Long & Associates, P.A. in Naples, Florida today to learn more about how our Firm can help you do what is necessary to protect your children and advocate a plan that is in their best interests.
Parenting decisions will impact your family for years to come. When it comes to your children’s safety and well-being, Long & Associates, P.A. offer caring and compassionate legal counsel. Our firm strives tirelessly to protect the best interests of the children in Naples, Florida. Let us help your family today.