If you have been researching Florida divorce on the internet and you have children, you most likely know that a parenting plan is required to be filed in your case. Parents who are getting along often don’t see the reason for the specificity required by the Supreme Court Form (or their caring attorney) and question whether they need to put so much detail into their future co-parenting scheme. I respond to these queries with a further query. Things may be going well now, but what happens when you hit a bump in the road regarding your co-parenting relationship and don’t like each other too much? Will you be able make decisions together on who has the kids for Hanukkah or Christmas? For their birthdays? Will you be able to peacefully work with each other to solve the daily issues that inevitably arise in the life of parents? I witness these “bumps” all the time. A typical scenario is one in which co-parenting is going well until one parent starts dating or remarries and then almost immediately, the harmony that once existed is gone. Perhaps the girlfriend is jealous of Mom. Dad thinks the new boyfriend is not his idea of a good guy. Maybe the boyfriend is a great guy and Dad is threatened and doesn’t want to lose his standing with the children to this new person. Perhaps Mom is jealous of the girlfriend and afraid that the kids will look to the girlfriend for the things that she sees as her job to fulfill. Perhaps another major change happens, like parents moving into town or the family home. What had been seamlessly working for you and the other parent is now disrupted by change as a result of new people being part of your lives. It happens all the time. Please be aware that the Florida Supreme Court-approved form does allow parents in certain sections to make “ad hoc” decisions regarding their co-parenting scheme. For example, the Holiday section contains an option for timesharing to be “as the parties agree.” The “other” options under sections such as Schedule Changes and Extracurricular Activities allow for a lack of specificity as to how to handle these issues. Although it is possible to have a passable parenting plan with these types of choices elected, it is absolutely not a good idea. Although it may feel counterintuitive and sad to be so specific with your Florida Parenting Plan, please remember that bumps in the road will arise – even in the best co-parenting teams. Be specific for the sake of your children. They need to know where they will be (with Mom or Dad). They need to have a sense of order in their new post-divorce lives and they certainly don’t need to witness conflict as a result of a Parenting Plan lacking in necessary detail. Written by: Camy B. Schwam-Wilcox of Schwam-Wilcox & Associates, Attorneys & Counselors At Law If you would like more information about Florida Parenting Plans and Florida Divorce, I would be honored to assist you.
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