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. Gone are the days of “Primary” and “Secondary” Residential Parents. Today Mothers and Fathers begin at a more equal footing in determining the time-sharing each of them exercise with their child(ren). This more equitable starting point is consistent with what was occurring in the psychological community as well. Some are of the opinion that this means that the Court starts with the presumption that “equal” or “50/50” parenting time is in the child(ren)’s best interest, however, 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 Fla. Stat. 61.13(3). For instance, the Court evaluates what “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”. Those are just a few examples of what the Courts look for in determining a Parenting Plan.
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 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 with Parenting Evaluators, Counselors, Guardian Ad Litems, etc., both in Naples and throughout Florida.
While we represent you the parent, your child(ren), and the impact the litigation has on them are 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 which 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 may award one parent either sole-decision making authority, or he or she are granted authority to make the final decision on an issue regarding the children.
If you have any questions about your child(ren)’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.