A New Day In Florida

A new day has dawned in Florida concerning parenting concerns in divorce cases.

Effective October 1, 2008, the Florida legislature has stricken the terms “custodial parent”, “primary residential parent”, “noncustodial parent”, “rotating custody”, and “visitation” from the statutes (Chapter 61). Instead, the divorcing parents (or the Courts) are now to formulate “parenting plans” – defined as “a document created to govern the relationship between the parties relating to the decisions that must be made regarding the minor child and shall maintain a time-sharing schedule for the parents and child.”
A time sharing schedule is a timetable that specifies the time that a child will spend with each parent.

In creating a parenting plan, some factors the Judge is required to consider are both parents’ ability to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the timesharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.

These changes are a reflection of ongoing research that suggests children are better served when they are raised equally by both parents and spend equal time with both parents after a divorce. The statutory language was changed to reflect this concept and to reduce litigation concerning who is the better parent and who should have “custody” of the child. It clearly is intended for Courts to put the needs of the children over the needs of the parent. Additionally, the research does suggest problems in equal time sharing occur when parents continue to fight, if a parent is abusive, and if a parent is unfit in some way. These problems can be overcome with a highly structured plan and minimal flexibility.

The parent who is at a greater disadvantage is the parent who does not have the skills to treat their co-parent equally and with mutual respect. There is universal agreement that children thrive when they grew up in a loving, supportive environment that includes both parents. For example, the Children’s Rights Council suggests that children of your children’s ages should spend time with each parent at least part of each day or every other day.

     Posted on September 17, 2008 at 1:59 pm | No comment

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