When you file for divorce and have children, you will have to fill out a parenting plan that will list your intentions regarding dividing duties, time sharing responsibilities, and child support payments for each spouse. Florida encourages joint custody, and parenting plans have to be filled out by both parties and signed under the witness of a notary public or deputy clerk.
Filing a parenting plan will help you and your spouse come to your own agreement about how you will raise your child moving forward. If you and your spouse cannot agree on these issues, the court will have to make the decisions for you. This could cost you a lot of time, money, and frustration in court, and it may be hard to explain the final decision to your child.
If you and your spouse are considering filing for divorce, take a look at the following ways you can prepare and complete a parenting plan that will best benefit the relationship you have with your spouse and your child.
Keep Calm and Carry On. Parenting plans involve making important decisions on big responsibilities on how to raise your child. It is easy to let emotions or anxiety get in the way of completing the plan. Use a calm tone of voice while communicating with your spouse. Remember that anger and tension will only hurt your relationship with your child in the long run.
Talk to Your Children. Remember that these decisions are being made to benefit your child, so their input may help to sway you one way or the other. Remember to stay unbiased when talking to your child, and encourage open communication. And make sure you talk to your child with your spouse so your child does not feel like he or she has to answer a certain way or “choose” a particular parent over the other.
Ultimately, a judge will rule in what he or she believes is in the best interest of the child. If you are filing for a contested divorce and a judge will make the final ruling about time sharing and child support, keep in mind that your child may be asked questions in court.
Keep Issues Separate. There are a lot of decisions and compromises to make when you are filing for divorce. Primarily, these involve financial issues. Keep all issues of money and parental responsibilities separate. Think like the judge that will rule on your case and negotiate each decision on a case-by-case basis.
Seek Mediation, if Necessary. If you and your spouse are having a difficult time coming to an agreement on how responsibilities and schedules should be settled, consider seeing a mediator. A third party will be able to help you and your spouse openly talk about the decisions you have to make, while coming to a fair and unbiased negotiation.
Plan for the Future. You will be able to make changes to parenting plans and child support payments if the need arises, but keep in mind that you will have to do so through court proceedings. Talk to your spouse about future plans, including college tuition payments and what will happen if either of you get remarried. This may adjust your responsibilities and decisions while preventing more court time down the road.
Sometimes, negotiation and mediation can still lead to frustrating conflicts and disagreements. If you feel underrepresented in divorce proceedings or unable to confidentially defend your rights to raise or visit your child, we recommend you talk to a Florida lawyer today.