Losing the custody of a child can be the most devastating time in someone’s life. Having time with both parent important for the mental and emotional growth of a child, and also contributes to family happiness. When a family goes through a divorce, everyone loses, but many times fathers lose more than mothers when it comes to having an active role in their child’s life. This may be partly due to a father’s lack of understanding of the law, or fear of going to court to fight for equal custody of their child.
Fathers should know that during a divorce they have the same legal rights to the child as the mother does, meaning they have equal rights to custody of the child. Each parent has equal standing under the law until there is a signed legal document containing the custody agreement, or the judge hands down his or her opinion on custody. However, if a father does not know this and gives up his full custody rights, he may lose them before he had the opportunity to fight for them.
Equal rights means that if the mother takes the children away from the father, he has just as much right to bring them home. He also has the right to know what is going on with the children at school or at the doctor’s office. Until there is a signed custody agreement, both parents have equality when it comes to matters of the child.
Fear of Fighting
There may be a lot of fighting during a divorce about everything from the family home to special heirlooms. Fathers may feel that they don’t want to drag the subject of custody through the courts for fear of eventually losing out to the mother. Therefore, many fathers may even allow the mother to dictate when he can see the child before a court-ordered custody agreement is in place. This behavior can be detrimental to a father’s ability to gain custody because the longer that a father allows his ex wife to dictate the child’s schedule, the more he may lose favor in the courts, which is why it’s very important for fathers to know that they have equal rights.
Custody and the Courts
According to divorcepeers.com, many custody agreements are decided without ever going to court, and most of them are in favor of the mother. Meaning, there are many men who are giving up their rights before giving themselves a fighting chance.
It’s important that any father who is going through a divorce hire a family law attorney who will fight for his equal rights for custody. Fathers have a right, and arguably an obligation to fight to be a part of their children’s lives on a consistent basis.
If you are a man with children who is going through a divorce, do not let your ex-wife dictate when you can see your children before a custody agreement is signed. Just because someone you know was not granted equal custody by the courts, it does not mean that you will not be given equal custody. Don’t agree to any custody document without consulting with an attorney and fighting for your right to be in your child’s life.
In the end, the man goal is to do what is best for the child. If you believe that you at risk of losing you parental rights during a divorce, contact me to learn more about how you can remain in your child’s life.
Meyer, C. (n.d.). What Custody Rights Do Fathers Have? Retrieved from https://www.liveabout.com/a-fathers-legal-rights-to-child-custody-before-and-during-divorce-1103351
The issues of divorce or separation and child support can be extremely touchy for many reasons. When couples with children separate, the consequences can be tumultuous. One of the consequences may be that one parent must pay child support to another parent, which should go solely to the care of the child.
How is child support calculated?
In the state of Florida, child support is taken very seriously. The courts make a decision on how much one non-custodial parent must pay the custodial parent in order to support the needs of the child. This decision is based on several factors including the income of both parents and the healthcare and child care needs of the child or children, as well as the standard needs of the child. If a parent is voluntarily not working, then a salary will be assigned to him or her based on the average salary of their location at that time. One parent may be required to pay child support to the other even if the custody arrangement is 50-50.
Changes in Employment Status or Incarceration
In the event that a parent who is paying child support loses his or her job, there are several things that can happen. Unemployment does not mean that the parent is relieved of his or her child support obligation. If a parent loses his or her job, he or she should notify the child support enforcement agency immediately. The unemployed parent should then apply for unemployment benefits in the state, if he or she qualifies. Through the unemployment benefits, the parent may have the child support automatically deducted.
If a parent is unable to find employment, he or she must continue to actively search for jobs, and it may be possible to request a reduction of child support or a modification. However, it is up to a judge to decide any changes in child support, and the parent must continue to pay as required in the original agreement until the courts approve a change. Once employment is re-established, the parent may have an increase in their payment amount in order to cover any missed payments during unemployment.
In the unfortunate event that a parent is incarcerated while he or she owes child support, that parent is still obligated to pay. He or she must contact the child support enforcement agency as well, and may also request a modification in payments. Once he or she is released from their sentence, he or she must notify the courts and resume regular payments as established by the courts.
Any time there is a change in financial status, it is possible that child support payments can be modified, but the courts must approve the modification in order for it to be legal.
Child Support Payment is Critical
Any time that a parent can pay child support; he or she should always pay based on the court order. It’s important to note that the consequences of not paying child support can be severe. A delinquent parent can be punished by anything from the suspension of a driver’s license, to passport denial, or even jail or prison time.
If you or anyone you know is going through a divorce or needs assistance with issues of child support, it’s important to contact an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can advise you on the best course of action for your case.
Child Support Amounts. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://floridarevenue.com/childsupport/child_support_amounts/Pages/child_support_amounts.aspx
Child Support Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://thespatzlawfirm.wordpress.com/?s=child support
Anytime there is a dispute within a family, whether it has to do with a divorce or child custody issues, emotions can be high, and it can be difficult to come to an agreement that works for each party. Many times, this is when the courts get involved. Family members may have to present to a judge, and in some cases, may be subject to the decision of a judge or jury.
However, there is one way that disputes can be resolved that gives more decision-making power back to the people who are having the conflict. If conflicting parties are ordered to or choose to go to mediation, it is possible to settle a family dispute outside of the courtroom.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a way for people to discuss their dispute in the presence of an impartial party. In certain cases mediation is court-ordered while in other cases the two parties can choose to go to mediation. The neutral mediator is often chosen by the courts in issues of family law. He or she must be certified by the Florida Supreme Court, but is not allowed to give legal advice, or provide therapy or counseling. The mediator may help the discussion along by providing ideas of ways that the disputing parties can come to an agreement.
Whenever there are issues involving the family, it may be difficult for opposite parties to operate without being emotional, and it can often be hard for each person to see the issue any other way. A mediator’s job is to spark ideas that may lead to an ultimate agreement, or simply the agreement that a mutually satisfying resolution cannot be made.
Once there is an agreement in mediation, both parties will be asked to sign a document that explains the details of the agreement, which becomes a contract. At this point, the terms of the contract are legally binding and must be followed by all parties involved. If an agreement cannot be made, then the issue may be sent back to the courts for a judge or jury to ultimately decide.
Benefits of Mediation
Mediation is a way to keep a dispute out of the courts, and may save time and money. It is an opportunity to resolve conflict with an impartial person who can offer up suggestions that may not have been considered by either party. Additionally, the mediator can help overcome communication obstacles or emotional barriers that have stalled the issue from being resolved or moving forward. He or she can assist with listening and help each party stay focused on the real issues that need to be discussed
Perhaps the biggest benefit to mediation is that it keeps the decision-making power with the parties involved in the dispute as opposed to a judge or jury. An agreement established in mediation is one that is created by the people who will be affected the most by any terms, and therefore, it may be appealing to some to have the power to make that ultimate decision.
Mediations are also private and confidential, which is different than public hearings that wind up on the record. There are no judges or juries involved in the mediation process, and attorneys are not required, but advised.
Tips for a Successful Mediation
Any time that you will be going to mediation, you should absolutely consult the advice of a family law attorney. Your attorney will be able to help you understand what terms would be most beneficial to you.
Make sure you are prepared and arrive on time. If you are ill prepared for the mediation, you may end up agreeing to something that does not work in your favor.
It’s important to also arrange for childcare if needed. Children are often not allowed in the mediation room.
Mediation in family law cases may last an hour or several days, depending on the time it takes both parties to agree on terms to a resolution. In the event that you are going to mediation or feel that you may need to in order to resolve a legal conflict, contact an experienced family law attorney who can properly advise you through the mediation process. The Spatz Law Firm can be reached at (305) 442-0200.
Mediation in Florida. (n.d.). Retrieved December 6, 2018, from https://www.flcourts.org/Resources-Services/Alternative-Dispute-Resolution/Mediation-in-Florida
After a divorce, co-parenting your children can still create many challenges throughout the year, but these may be significantly magnified as the holidays approach. Between events and gatherings with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends, you and your former spouse may be competing for precious time with your little ones.
It’s important to always follow the parenting plan established over the course of your divorce in order to avoid any major issues that could further damage the family, but in addition to that, here are a few more tips for co-parenting during the holidays.
Prioritize Your Kids
Never forget whose wellbeing is most important to consider, despite what happened with your former spouse. Make sure you are considering your children with each decision you make year-round, but especially during the holidays, which are supposed to be a fun and enchanting time.
You may feel the need to pull your kids in many different directions to visit family in the limited amount of time that you have together, but this may not serve your children well. Kids may become exhausted and not enjoy quality time if you are not taking their needs into consideration. Remember, this is a time for making memories, not for running your children into the ground and creating resentment for holiday functions. If your kids need a break, think about how you can incorporate that into the festivities.
If you and your spouse coordinate how you will handle gifts, you can limit the need to one-up each other each year. Decide on a budget, and make sure you aren’t getting the same gifts on your kids’ lists. Your children will be happier in the long run if both parents share the gift-giving duties equally as opposed to one outdoing the other.
Make Plans, But Be Patient
As stated earlier, it’s important to always follow the parenting plan set by the court when it comes to holiday time with your kids, but even more than that, make sure you have a plan for the time spent together. If there are extra activities or events that you would like for your child to attend, make arrangements with your ex to ensure that each parent is getting equal time.
Additionally, be patient. The holidays can be busy and stressful, especially if there is a lot of back-and-forth. Try to let the small things go, and remember that the most important thing is the experience of your child.
Never Argue in Front of the Kids
Though there may be disagreements from time to time, keep your arguing to a minimum and out of range of the children. Divorce is hard enough on kids, but repeated arguments between parents can be internalized by your children and cause them much distress throughout their lives. Consider settling disagreements after the kids go to bed or over email when decisions can be placed in writing in order to deter future arguments or misunderstandings.
Don’t Give Up on Self-Care
If you can’t take care of yourself, it’s very difficult to take care of others. Therefore, it’s important that you take some time to enjoy the holiday season as well. When the kids are with your ex, take time to relax, spend time with friends and family, and ensure that you are both physically and emotionally healthy. This will create a more positive atmosphere for the whole family and keep tensions to a minimum when the children are around.
In the event of a separation or divorce, it’s important to contact an experienced family attorney. Your attorney will help you through the process of creating a parenting plan and custody schedule that is beneficial for the whole family.
Conklin-Danao, D. (2017, November 23). Co-Parenting During the Holidays: 5 Tips to Follow. Retrieved from https://www.divorcemag.com/blog/co-parenting-during-the-holidays-tips-to-follow/
Divorce is always a hard topic. Even if there are not children involved in the marriage, spouses must divide their belongings and assets earned during the marriage as they part ways.
In the state of Florida, we have what is called an “Equitable Distribution” of assets and liabilities acquired during the marriage. This basically means that any marital property will be equally distributed after a divorce. These include assets acquired jointly by the spouses during the marriage; enhancements of non-marital property due to the efforts of a spouse; jointly titled property, even if it was acquired as non-marital property; gifts from one spouse to another during the marriage; and joint bank accounts.
Just as assets are divided, so must liabilities. A marriage between two people can have many benefits and successes, but also comes with risk and sometimes failures. Equitable Distribution covers both sides.
The Process of Dividing Through Divorce
During the divorce process, the first consideration is always the dependent children, if there are any. The court will handle issues of custody and child support prior to the equitable distribution of property. After the children are taken care of, the court will award each party their non-marital property, or items that were acquired before the spouses were legally married. However, it’s important to note that non-marital property can become marital property, as in the example of a spouse’s name being added to the title of a property owned by the other spouse before the marriage.
An example of non-marital property could be a personal bank account that is only in one spouse’s name that was opened prior to the marriage and not used for marital expenses.
The equitable distribution of properties acquired during the marriage will follow the non-marital assets. After the equitable distribution of property, the court will determine alimony, if any is awarded.
What Does the Court Consider?
According to Chapter 61 of Florida Statutes, which discusses equitable distribution. The following items are considered by the court when dividing the marital assets and liabilities. Some items may be awarded in a larger percentage to one spouse over another depending on “competent and substantial evidence” of the lawyer of that spouse.
(a) The contribution to the marriage by each spouse, including contributions to the care and education of the children and services as homemaker.
(b) The economic circumstances of the parties.
(c) The duration of the marriage.
(d) Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party.
(e) The contribution of one spouse to the personal career or educational opportunity of the other spouse.
(f) The desirability of retaining any asset, including an interest in a business, corporation, or professional practice, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party.
(g) The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or the improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital assets and the nonmarital assets of the parties.
(h) The desirability of retaining the marital home as a residence for any dependent child of the marriage, or any other party, when it would be equitable to do so, it is in the best interest of the child or that party, and it is financially feasible for the parties to maintain the residence until the child is emancipated or until exclusive possession is otherwise terminated by a court of competent jurisdiction. In making this determination, the court shall first determine if it would be in the best interest of the dependent child to remain in the marital home; and, if not, whether other equities would be served by giving any other party exclusive use and possession of the marital home.
(i) The intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets after the filing of the petition or within two years prior to the filing of the petition.
(j) Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
In an amicable divorce, both parties will sign a “Marriage Settlement Agreement” (MSA), which will lay out exactly how everything will be divided after the dissolution of the marriage. However, in many cases, this process will be handled in mediation or by a judge.
Courts will be as equal as possible when dividing assets and liabilities at the end of a marriage, but a competent family attorney may be able to help a spouse recover exactly what he or she is owed. If you are facing a divorce, contact a family attorney as soon as possible in order to assist you through the distribution of property earned over the course of your marriage. The Spatz Law Firm is here to answer your questions. Please give us a call at 305-442-0200.
A Seven-Step Analysis of Equitable Distribution in Florida Part 2: Distributing Marital Property. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.floridabar.org/news/tfb-journal/?durl=/DIVCOM/JN/jnjournal01.nsf/Articles/8323D0F2AB6652FB85256ADB005D627A
Equitable Distribution in Florida Dissolution of Marriage – Florida Divorce Source. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.divorcesource.com/ds/florida/equitable-distribution-in-florida-dissolution-of-marriage-3703.shtml
In an unfortunate event that happened in southwest Miami-Dade this year, a foster mother was shot in her home by the biological parents of the children in her care. The biological mother then took the children to her own home, where she was later arrested. The foster mother was shot because she refused to give the children back to their biological mother when the mother demanded them, presumably in order to protect the children. Due to the arrest record of the biological mother, who had spent time in prison for child abuse and was charged again with child neglect, the children had been put into the custody of the Department of Children and Families for their own safety and well-being.
Situations like these often leave people wondering, what rights do foster parents have?
Basics of Foster Care
Children who grow up in foster care often have tough childhoods where they have moved around between their own home and the home of foster parents, and sometimes they are placed with several different foster parents. However, the idea behind foster homes is to provide the child with a more stable and nurturing environment than what the biological parents can provide.
- Foster care is meant to be temporary. It often comes to an end when the child is either adopted, reunited with his or her biological parents, or turns 18. Foster parents may initiate a termination of parental rights against the biological parents, but this is a rare situation. Usually the foster parent keeps the child until the state deems that the biological parent is fit for custody of the child.
- Foster parents must be emotionally and financially committed. In order to be a foster parent, a person must be completely committed to the loving care of a child that is not their own. Fostering a child is not a paid position, and all though foster parents are given a small stipend to help with food and clothing for the child, the parent must be able to financially support their own family and needs
- .Foster parents have to meet certain criteria. All foster parents consent to a criminal and child abuse registry check, as well as health and home inspections. They are responsible for regular communication with the caseworker assigned to the child and may be required to work with the state on the reunification visits with biological parents.
- Foster parents have the same responsibilities as any other parent. Foster parents do everything that biological parents do, including enroll the child in school, take the child to medical and dental appointments, and attend any meetings related to the child’s well-being or foster status. In essence, anyone who commits to being a foster parent is taking over the role of the parent of the child with all its responsibilities.
Deciding to foster a child is a big decision that should not be taken lightly. Anyone who chooses to take in a foster child should be prepared to be fully committed to the well-being of the child in his or her care. Some foster parents may choose to apply for adoption of the child in their care if that becomes an option, though it is not required, and it is not a guarantee.
If you are involved in a situation that may require children to be placed in foster care, you should contact a reliable family law attorney. There are rights and obligations on the side of the parents as well as the state, and an attorney can assist you through the process.
Batchelor, A., Burke, P., & Anwer, S. (2018, August 31). Foster mother shot, 2 children taken from home in southwest Miami-Dade. Retrieved from https://www.local10.com/news/crime/foster-mother-shot-2-children-taken-from-home-in-southwest-miami-dade
Trudeau, J. (2010, April 08). Foster Parent Rights in Florida. Retrieved from https://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/foster-parent-rights-in-florida
Who Can Become A Foster Parent? (1970, September 21). Retrieved from http://www.myflfamilies.com/service-programs/foster-care/who-can-become
FAQ. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.familiesfirstfl.com/about-us/faq/
Most adults are responsible for themselves when it comes to legal matters. Once you are a legal adult, you can make decisions based on the law in cases of money or property without someone else making those decisions for you. However, if an adult in the state of Florida becomes incapacitated due to injury or illness, there are measures set in place to ensure that someone will become responsible for the legal rights of the incapacitated person. In Florida, a guardianship is a legal proceeding where someone is appointed to make decisions and handle the legal matters of a person who becomes incapacitated, otherwise known as a “ward.”
How & Why is a Guardian Appointed?
If an adult becomes incapacitated, that means that he or she has been judicially determined to lack the capacity to manage their property, legal matters, and issues related to health and safety. A court can determine that someone is entirely or partially incapacitated depending on the findings of an expert committee.
Anyone can file a petition to the court stating that the incapacitation of another deems him or her eligible for a legal guardian, but it is up to the court to decide and enforce guardianship. Once a petition has been filed, a committee of three expert members is formed to review the case of the potential ward, which includes a physical, mental, and functional assessment. This committee is usually made up of two physicians and another expert in the condition of the person in question. The committee will submit a report to the court with these findings related to the capacity of the individual.
After the report is presented to the court, a judge will decide if a person is wholly or partially incapacitated, if at all, based on the factual evidence discovered by the committee. If someone is deemed to be in full capacity of him or herself, then the judge will throw out the petition for guardianship.
Who Can Be a Guardian?
Any adult resident in the state of Florida and some family members outside of the state may be appointed guardian of a ward as long as they have not been convicted of a felony, and are fully capable of handling the duties of being a guardian. A nonprofit entity may be granted guardianship in certain situations, and a bank trust can be appointed guardian of an individual’s property.
What Does a Guardian Do?
Ultimately, the court will decide what the ward is incapable of doing and assign the rights and responsibilities to the guardian. A guardian will be required to report regularly on the property and health of the ward. He or she will also be responsible for the medical, mental, and personal care of the ward, as well as determining the best place for the ward to live depending on the requirements of the court.
A guardianship does not have to be a permanent arrangement, as some wards may recover and become capable of exercising their own rights after some time. In this case, the court would conduct another assessment to determine whether the ward has recovered from their incapacitation and release them from the guardianship if there is a full recovery.
If a guardianship is petitioned or necessary, it’s important to hire an attorney who is experienced in the area of family law and guardianships. The guardian is also required to have representation by an attorney throughout the process. In legal documentation, the person who becomes the ward can also designate their preferred guardian before an incapacitating event.
Consumer Pamphlet: What Is Guardianship? – The Florida Bar. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.floridabar.org/public/consumer/pamphlet030/#WHAT IS A GUARDIANSHIP?
We all know how important the presence of a father is in a child’s life, especially during critical development years. Unfortunately, with the rate of divorce in this country, many children grow up without a steady father figure in the home.
In a compelling case in Florida, one girl is caught in a battle between two men who are vying to be her legal father. One man is the biological father, and the other is the man married to her mother. Now, the case is highlighting a law that says a child can only have two legal parents. However, what if there are three who claim her?
Can there be three legal parents?
Florida law says that a child born into a marriage legally belongs to the husband and wife as the child’s father and mother. However, this doesn’t necessarily take into account the fact that the child may have a separate biological father.
In a recent case, one biological father is fighting in court for the right to have shared custody and parenting rights for his biological daughter who legally belongs to another man.
Legal parents are the ones who have the right to make decisions for the child, and in this case, the biological father is not considered the child’s legal father.
Two lower courts have issued entirely different rulings, in this case, one saying that the biological dad should have some rights, and the other upholding the legal father’s rights. Several people involved with the case have expressed the need for the Florida legislature to modernize the laws surrounding legal parents and paternity. Now, the case heads to the Florida Supreme Court.
Florida Paternity Law
In the state of Florida, if a woman is not married when she gives birth, paternity must be established either voluntarily or by court order. If the mother and father agree on paternity, they may sign a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity” form, which becomes final 60 days after it is signed, at which time, neither parent can revoke it. The only way this document can be revoked is if either parent can prove in court that it was fraudulently signed, or that extreme force was used to coerce one of the parents to sign.
The following individuals can start the court process to establish paternity: the child’s mother, the “alleged” father, the child through a legal representative, or the Florida Department of Child Services.
Establishing paternity is important not only because every child should have a father in his or her life if possible, but acknowledging a legal father places responsibility on the parents to ensure that the child is taken care of as he or she grows. With paternity established, a judge may make orders for items such as child support and health insurance for the child, how parents should establish parenting time and decision-making authority over the child.
In any situation where paternity is in question or is a matter for the courts, it can be difficult for any family, but especially for the child involved. If you are involved in issues of paternity, it’s essential to contact a qualified family law attorney who can guide you through the court system.
Vasilinda, M. (n.d.). Should Florida children be allowed to have three legal parents? Retrieved from http://www.wjhg.com/content/news/Should-Florida-children-be-allowed-to-have-three-legal-prents-482133051.html
Nolo. (2014, August 14). Paternity in Florida. Retrieved from https://www.divorcenet.com/resources/paternity-florida.html
A separation between parents can be heartbreaking on an emotional level, but it will also create other hardships in the life of a family. Financially, it can be difficult to lose an income when raising a child, especially if one parent will be responsible for most of the care of the child. Therefore, we have measures in place to ensure that children who are involved in a divorce or parental separation are eligible to receive financial resources.
In the state of Florida, all children under the age of 18 have the right to receive ongoing financial support from both parents. Many times this is in the form of child support from one parent to the parent who has primary custody of the child. It’s important to note that you don’t have to be married to be required to pay child support to the other parent. If paternity is established, child support can be required.
Enforcement of Child Support
Child support is determined based on the income of both parents in the state of Florida. If the parent who is required to pay child support fails to pay, there can be severe consequences. In the state of Florida, you can be considered in contempt of court for failing to pay court-mandated child support.
In order for one parent to report a failure to pay, he or she should contact the local child support office through the Department of Revenue and report the failure to pay by the other parent. A case for hearing will be filed, and a hearing officer will hear the case. The hearing officer is not a judge but can offer recommendations to a judge based on the evidence in the case. If the hearing officer deems that the neglectful parent has the means to pay the child support but willfully failed to pay, the Department of Revenue can file a “motion for contempt.”
Moving Out of State
A parent who moves out of the original state where the child support was ordered is still obligated to pay, and it is still possible to enforce the child support order in the new state. There is a Federal law called the “Uniform Interstate Family Support Act” that has been adopted in all 50 states to protect the child support orders of other states. If a parent moves to another state, that state cannot change the child support order of the previous state if the other parent or child still resides in the original state.
Penalties of Failure to Pay Child Support
If you are found in contempt of court for failing to pay child support, these are some of the penalties you may receive.
- Suspension of Driver’s License or vehicle registration
- Suspension of business
- Bank accounts may be seized
- Income tax return may be seized
- Passport denial
- Jail or prison time
Any time there are issues arising with child support, you should contact a qualified family law attorney who has specialized knowledge and experience related to child support cases. The well-being and financial resources of your children should always be most important, and a family law attorney can help you determine the best course of action.
Child Support Enforcement in Florida. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://statelaws.findlaw.com/florida-law/child-support-enforcement-in-florida.html
Child Support. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.miamisao.com/services/child-support/
Wolf, J. (n.d.). Here’s How to File for Child Support in Florida. Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-file-for-child-support-in-florida-2998005
Vohwinkle, J. (n.d.). What Single Parents Should Know About Child Support. Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-collect-child-support-1289811
Anytime there is a separation or divorce in a family, lives will inevitably be disrupted, and everyone will go through changes as a new family arrangement is formed. Divorce is hardly ever easy, especially if there are kids involved in a family unit. Most parents hope for a smooth transition and have the best intentions to act respectfully with each other, though it’s often more difficult than first expected.
Parents going through a divorce have many options available to them when it comes to parenting and living arrangements. Every family is different, but the most important thing for all families should be to ensure the long-term stability and security of the children. When developing a legal parenting plan, some former partners may decide to share equal responsibilities when it comes to parenting in an arrangement called shared parenting, or co-parenting. Others may even take it a step further and decide to live in a “bird’s nest” arrangement. Here I’ll explain each concept in a bit more detail.
Any couple with children going through a divorce needs to file a Florida parenting plan with their decisions on how they will raise the children. If parents decide to enter into a co-parenting plan, they may also choose to create a separate informal plan with more ways that they will equally split parenting duties. This type of parenting style requires both former spouses to work respectfully with each other and share equal duties when it comes to raising the children. Neither parent is the primary caregiver, nor the visiting parent, but both agree to share in the parenting roles through the duration of the plan.
A co-parenting arrangement is designed to provide minimal disruption in a child’s life, but there has to be a definitive plan. This plan should include items about which parent is responsible for issues related to healthcare, finances, schooling, religion, activities, etc… that the children will be affected by until they are adults. Some examples of questions that should be discussed include:
- Who makes decisions related to medical visits?
- Education choices?
- College saving plans?
- Which parent is responsible for pick-up from school?
Bird’s Nest Living Arrangement
In a co-parenting situation, parents decide to have separate but loving homes while consulting with each other on the most important issues. However, some parents decide to keep themselves separated by rotating in and out of the family home while allowing their children to continue to stay in the same house. Parents may maintain a separate residence outside the home for the parent that is not living with the child in the family home at the time, or they may opt for separate residences altogether. The goal of this type of child-centered living arrangement is to provide the least amount of disruption in the child’s life, as they will not have to be shuttled back and forth to different residences. A bird’s nest arrangement really works best if parents are able to maintain a cooperative and amicable relationship at all times, as they both will still be sharing space at different times when in the family home.
Some things to consider in a situation where parents are sharing a home space on a rotating basis, such as with a bird’s nest co-parenting arrangement:
Will the parents each maintain a separate house outside of the main family home, or will they share a space as well? Can the family afford three residences? Who will be responsible for repairs to the home?
How will former spouses maintain privacy if they are sharing a family home? Will this affect the second residence as well?
Similarly to any parenting plan, which parent will make the major decisions? Will it be the parent who is in the family home at the time, or will all decisions be made jointly?
In any divorce situation where there are children involved, both parents should work toward shielding the children from any major conflicts. Former spouses should make it a priority to communicate clearly and peacefully, especially when children are around. Disruption of some kind will always be a part of a divorce, but when parents have mutual respect and a shared goal of providing for the stability of the child first, an appropriate parenting plan can be established.
With any divorce situation, it’s important to contact an experienced family law attorney. Your attorney can help you develop a legal parenting plan that works for your family.
Chapter 4: Cooperative Parenting Strategies. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.floridacoparenting.com/course_sample.html?p=4
“Bird’s Nest” Co-Parenting Arrangements. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/co-parenting-after-divorce/201307/birds-nest-co-parenting-arrangements