22 Aug What to Keep in Mind When Creating a Custody Agreement
You follow the textbook page by page. You dated until you find someone that fits your criteria. Then you got married and spent the beginning stages of your marriage traveling and enjoying one another’s company. Finally, the two of you decided to settle down and have children. It is usually at this point where the problems may arise. The two of you begin to grow apart. You can’t seem to agree on something as little as can the child have a cookie after 7 pm or not. You lose the love that you had for one another when you first started dating. Sometimes these issues can be repaired but most times they reach a point beyond repair, and the only resolution is to get a divorce and split your child or children’s time amongst the two of you. Simply figuring out the best arrangement for you, your ex and most importantly, your kids, is often more stressful than making the decision to divorce, but the following will help you determine what to keep in mind when creating a custody agreement.
The first thing a child wants to know upon hearing that their parents are getting a divorce is “Where am I going to live?” It is a fair question since he or she most likely loves both parents equally and would love to devote as much time to one parent as he or she would with the other. It cannot be easy spending hours, days, weekends, or holidays apart from your child, but it is important to put those feelings aside to make sure that your child gets as much time with your intended ex-spouse as they would with you. Keep in mind that a child’s comfort, needs, and happiness has to be the first priority of any divorce and custody battle. The following are considerations to keep in mind, so you do not lose your focus, and you can create a parenting plan that is suitable for all parties involved.
Your Children’s Best Interest
A traditional form of physical custody (“time-sharing” in Florida) is shared physical custody or joint physical custody in which both parents split their time with their kids fifty-fifty. Fifty-fifty could mean alternating weeks. For instance, one parent could have the child for one week and the following week would be spent with the other parent. Parents could also split their days in half where the child gets time with one parent in the morning and spends the remainder of the day with the other parent. Holidays and weekends have to be factored in as well somehow. Ultimately, the two of you have to share your time without disrupting the child’s schedule, such as daycare, school, and extracurricular activities. For this to work, both parents could live nearby one another and/or the child’s school so that commuting will not be much of a problem. Not only does shared custody allow enough time with each parent for kids to bond and feel secure, but it reduces child support payments. Sole time-sharing is also another form of custody that grants one parent with the child full time if the other parent is deemed unfit to be with the child alone due to alcohol or drug problem, a history of abuse, or other impairment.
Finding Common Ground
What will the regular parenting time-sharing schedule be? Sometimes parents cannot reach an agreement on their own in which case they will need the help of their divorce counsel. The attorney’s job is not only to find common ground, but it is to help make reasonable recommendations for your family in order to promote their emotional and financial well-being. It is not easy for a child to witness his or her parents bickering back and forth with one another about the terms of their Parental Responsibility Plan. An experienced divorce attorney will help the parents create an arrangement that works for their particular situation and will assist the parents to cooperate with one another in a manner in which the child will not witness conflict.
If you and your ex-spouse find that your current arrangement doesn’t work for you and your child, tweak the schedule. As long as the two of you have maintained a healthy respectful relationship, that should not be an issue. You should also ask your child how the arrangement is affecting them. Find out if they like it or if they want to change anything. This is not to say that your child should make the rules and decide with whom and when they get to spend their time. As they get older, they can have more to say, but it is ultimately your decision to decide which parent he or she gets to stay with. Under the first rights of refusal, If a parent is unable to be with the child at their scheduled time, you can give your spouse the first opportunity. If he or she is not available, then you could consider grandparents or a sitter.
Parents willing to fight for their children in court clearly love their kids, though sometimes it can be difficult to separate the battle for their children’s best interests from the struggle against the soon-to-be ex-spouse in the dissolution of marriage proceeding. A good family law attorney serves as both a legal advisor as well as a consultant, who will make suggestions, based on the law and their experience to put your family in the best possible position once the marriage is dissolved. If you want to know about your rights and those of your children, please give us a call for a consultation.