Establishing & Modifying The Parenting Plan & Parenting Schedule
In almost every divorce, both parents want to remain an integral part of their children’s lives and continue their role in raising their children. Unfortunately, when parenting plans and schedules are not put together properly, children become an emotional football to be kicked around.
At Thompson Family Law, P.A., in Fort Myers, Florida, we are committed to helping parents reach parenting plan agreements that represent what is in the best interest of their children. We will lay out all of your options so you can make an informed choice about how to proceed with your case. To speak to a knowledgeable family law attorney, call 239-243-9297 or toll free at 888-550-6071.
Children, Our Most Precious Resource
Children should be protected from unnecessary hurt and confusion. Litigation over family matters, whether divorce, paternity or parenting issues, can be painful for everyone. Divorce or the breakup of a relationship is a major crisis for adults and children. The stress of a divorce or other family litigation can produce physical symptoms, as well as behavioral and emotional problems.
Children of different ages react differently to the breakup of their parents, from irritability in infants to drug use in adolescents. Recognizing the signs of trouble early and helping children deal with them may prevent serious future problems.
Developing A Parenting Plan
It is public policy of Florida to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of raising their children. Your relationship as a couple may be ending, but your relationship with your children does not. Each parent has a voice and commitment in making decisions important to the welfare and upbringing of their children, consistent with each parent’s ability and interest.
A written parenting plan is required in all cases involving time sharing with minor children. The parenting plan may be either created and agreed to by the parties or developed by the court. The parenting plan should contain at least these basic following provisions:
- The parents’ division of responsibility for day-to-day care of the child(ren), taking into account each parent’s work schedule
- A specific parenting schedule which indicates when the child(ren) will have time with each parent
- Designate parental responsibility
- Choose an address for school boundary determination and registration and other activities
- Lay out communication methods that may be used between parents to discuss parenting issues and communication methods for parents and children
The goal is to describe with sufficient specificity and detail those potential areas of future conflicts so they can be identified, addressed and resolved before problems arise and escalate.
The parenting plan should also address how decision-making will be shared, how the process for shared decision-making should be implemented and the rights to which each parent is entitled.
The Best Interest Of The Child
Ultimately, the only thing the court will be concerned about is doing what is in the best interest of your children. All other issues between you and your spouse will be secondary. With that said, parenting plans are not one-size-fits-all. Depending on a number of factors, including the ages of your children and their needs, custody arrangements will vary. However, all parenting plans and visitation schedules must be approved by the court.
Specific Considerations For Young Children
Specific factors to consider in fashioning a parenting schedule for young children include:
- What separations has the child had from each parent?
- What style of parenting have the parents used since the child’s birth?
- What involvement has each parent had since birth?
Where there are two or more children in the family, use the parenting schedule for the youngest of two children, or the middle child of three or more siblings (as an adjustment period) before expanding to the schedule for the older child.
Splitting Children Between Two Homes
As a general rule, siblings should not be separated and living in different homes except for the most compelling reasons. Agreeing that one parent shall take one child while you take the other child is generally not an acceptable solution.
Separating children deprives them of their natural right to grow up together with the advantage of sharing mutual experiences within the family. There is often a bond of interdependence among siblings, which, when left intact, can serve as a source of mutual support and can help lessen the trauma of their parents’ divorce or separation.
Parenting Plan Modification
These plans can be modified in the post-judgment period, but any changes — like the initial plan — must represent what is in the best interest of the child. To increase your time with your child, you will have to prove it is in your child’s best interest. In many cases, the child’s input will also be considered.
If two parents can agree to changes on their own, the process is much simpler, although the judge will still have to approve the changes and make sure they are under allowable circumstances.
To learn more about establishing or modifying parenting plans and parenting schedules, contact us today to speak to one of our experienced lawyers.