If you are thinking about divorce and you have children, then your biggest concern is probably your children. What happens after the divorce?
- Where will my children live?
- How often will I see them?
- Who gets to decide where they go to school?
- When will they get a cell phone?
- If they are old enough for sleep-overs with friends?
Terms like “custody” and “visitation” have been replaced in Florida with things like “parenting responsibility” and “time-sharing”. What does this really mean to you as a parent? The first thing you need to know is that every divorce involving children must include a parenting plan, and that plan must have two distinct orders – one that governs the relationship between parents and how they will make decisions for their minor children, and another dealing with how much time each parent will spend with the child. If you, as parents, can’t agree, then the court will decide for you. Either way, the court has to approve the plan (Fla. Stat. §61.13 http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes. Here are a few terms every parent facing divorce should become familiar with:
Parental Responsibility – Responsibility of the parents to make decisions for the child after separation. In Florida, it is assumed that it is best for a child to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents have separated or divorced. Further, there is a presumption that shared parenting is best for the child, and will be ordered by the court unless a parent can show that this is not best for the child.
Shared Parental Responsibility – Both parents keep full parental rights and responsibilities, and both parents work together to make decisions that affect the welfare of the child. Again, this is what happens unless you can prove it’s not best for your child – a hard thing to prove in most cases.
Sole Parenting – This occurs where an order allows one parent to make decisions alone about one or more aspects of a child’s life (for example, medical decisions, education decisions or religious decisions).
Time Sharing Schedule – Every parenting plan must include a detailed schedule of how the parents will spend time with the child.
Best Interest –There are 20 factors the court must consider when deciding what parenting plan is in the best interest of the child, though other things can be considered. These factors are found in Fla. Stat. §61.13(3). http://www.leg.state.fl.us
Every parent needs to take time – lots of time – to think about how the divorce will affect the children. Your parenting plan is the key to helping your children transition after the divorce.
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