The difficulties any couple experiences when going through a divorce is compounded when there are children involved. Among Florida’s requirements during a divorce involving children is the submission of a completed parenting plan. This provides a comprehensive outline of how divorcing spouses intend to structure their children’s lives, what roles each parent will play and how the parents will handle a variety of situations and challenges that might come up.
The first rule of the parenting plan and the primary consideration of the court system is that the best interests of the children must be the highest priority. Coming to an agreement that puts aside the differences between the parents and puts children’s interests in focus can be difficult, but essential.
In day-to-day conversation, many people are tempted to reduce a timesharing plan to something very basic, such as which days the kids spend with each parent or where the kids go on the weekends. However, Florida’s parenting plan form is all encompassing. It covers the full range of children’s life needs, going far beyond the question of where they spend their days and nights and taking into account the various other aspects of their lives. School schedules, extracurricular activities, summers, holidays, birthdays, bedtimes, meal times — all of these issues and more are accounted for in the parenting plan. Finding an arrangement that works well for all parties involved may demand discussion and compromise.
An effective timesharing plan encourages consistency and predictability. Children are adaptable, but that’s not an excuse for making them change their schedules day-to-day. With a regular plan, one that all parties can stick to on a continuing basis, children and parents both will be better able to adapt to life after a divorce.
The divorce process can be complex and time-consuming, and it involves a great deal of negotiation and paperwork. If you’re going through a divorce in Florida, consult an experienced Tampa-area family law attorney with the Law Office of K. Dean Kantaras.