Although just about every aspect of a divorce can be challenging, many Floridians find negotiating and litigating child custody issues to be the most emotionally charged, and for good reason. The outcome of a child custody dispute will dictate how much time each parent spends with a child, which, in turn, can affect a parent's relationship with their child. To protect this relationship as fully as possible, Floridians embroiled in a divorce need to understand how to present compelling legal arguments that support their position and their child's best interests.
Under Florida law, parents are expected to attempt to come to an agreement on a parenting plan. This plan will dictate how time will be shared with the child, including holidays and school breaks. The parenting plan even addresses how extracurricular activities will be handled as well as how children will be transported to each parent's house for their parenting time and where drop offs and pickups will occur. Even types of communication between parent and child can be spelled out in this plan.
While Florida's family courts hope that parents can negotiate a strong parenting plan that suits everyone's needs, the truth of the matter is that not everyone is able to do so. When that is the case, the court will impose a parenting plan that it believes is in the child's best interest. This may mean that the plan that is ultimately put in place does not reflect both parents' desires. It is worth noting here, too, that a court can deny a parenting plan if it feels that the plan doesn't support the child's best interests.
So, what does this mean for parents in Florida? It means that they should try to negotiate parenting plans that are fair and, more importantly, further their children's best interests. The best interest determination incorporates a lot of factors, which will be discussed in a future blog post. In the meantime, those who would like to learn more about how to develop an appropriate parenting plan may want to speak with a family law attorney.