The divorce process can be hard enough with just you and your spouse but when children are involved, the process becomes even more complicated. There is more than just deciding who has to pay child support. If you and your spouse don’t agree on child issues, the court will decide the parental responsibility of each parent, what the time-sharing schedule will look like, and the terms of a completely outlined parenting plan to better assist you and your family after the divorce and taking into consideration the child(ren)’s best interest(s). See Florida Parental Responsibility Law.
Pursuant to Florida Statute 61.13, parental responsibility involves the major decisions for the child(ren) which customarily includes medical treatment, childcare, education, and the like. Per the statute, “the court shall order that the parental responsibility for a minor child be shared by both parents unless the court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child.” Meaning either you and your spouse can agree, or the court will decide whether you will have shared parental responsibility or whether one spouse will have sole parental responsibility, or if one parent may have the ultimate decision-making authority in the event the parents are unable to agree. If one parent is awarded sole parental responsibility, that parent can legally make all major decisions for the minor child(ren) without the other parent’s input and advise the parent thereafter. See Florida Types of Parental Responsibility
Per Florida Statute 61.13, when a time-sharing (commonly known as custody) schedule is set, the parties themselves can create the schedule as long as it is in the best interest of the minor child(ren). If the parents are unable to agree, the court will decide the schedule. Time-sharing is typically established so that both parents have equal (or close to equal) timesharing, one parent has majority time-sharing, or in certain cases one parent may have limited time-sharing or even supervised timesharing. Supervised timesharing is when there are credible instances that may affect the child(ren)’s best interest such as when abuse, neglect, abandonment, mental health, domestic violence, etc. are at issue.
Everything discussed above must be outlined within a Parenting Plan, which is required in Florida when the parties have minor child(ren). When establishing a Parenting Plan, there are generally three (3) areas items that the court assures are in place. These include:
- A plan for day-to-day parental responsibility;
- The time-sharing schedule, including as to weekly, summer, vacation and holiday schedules; and
- A plan for child-related communications between the parents.
It is best to work together as co-parents and place your child(ren)’s best interests as the priority as you and your spouse discuss your Parenting Plan. Also, keep in mind that while it would be ideal for parents to work together and come to terms on the details of a Parenting Plan, if the event the parent may need some assistance, there are several resources available that can assist such as a mediators and parent coordinators. Remember that divorce can be harder on your child(ren) than you, so planning and knowing your rights can ensure your child(ren)’s interests are of the utmost importance and assist towards an amicable resolution.
To download Florida’s Supreme Court Approved Parenting Plan, please see Family Law Form 12.995 (a) OR if you or someone you know is seeking advice on children during a divorce, you can speak with one of our family law attorneys at the Yaffa Family Law Group at 561-276-3880 or visit our website at www.yaffafamilylawgroup.com to schedule your confidential complimentary consultation.