The amount of time each parent will spend with the children can be the most acrimonious decision made during a divorce or paternity case. The care of minor children is always of chief importance to parents.
It is not always necessary for the Court to decide custody/timesharing if the parents can agree. Child custody/timesharing can be settled out of Court through a Parenting Plan. A Parenting Plan contains a custody/timesharing schedule that includes days of the week, pick up and return times, which holidays each parent gets, vacation days, and where the children may or may not travel. At Tampa Bay Divorce Firm, we are eager to help you prepare a Parenting Plan that meets the needs and best interests of your children. We believe that it is essential for the children’s sake to make an effort to come to an agreed-upon Parenting Plan without the influence of the Court. It creates a much better outcome for the children involved.
However, if harmonious discussions fail, a Parenting Plan will be determined by the Court. The Court will ultimately consider the children’s best interests when determining a Parenting Plan. Florida Statutes require the Court to evaluate the following factors when determining the best interests of the children:
- The demonstrated capacity of each parent to encourage a close parent-child relationship with the other parent, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.
- The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
- The demonstrated capacity of each parent to determine, consider and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
- The moral fitness of the parents.
- The mental and physical health of the parents.
- The home, school, and community record of the child.
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
- The demonstrated knowledge and capacity of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.
- The demonstrated capacity of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
- The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.
- Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought.
- Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.
- The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.
- The demonstrated capacity of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
- The demonstrated capacity of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
- The capacity of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.
- The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
- Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.
At Tampa Bay Divorce Firm we can help ensure that a Parenting Plan is developed that fits the unique needs of your family and your children. Please contact Tampa Bay Divorce Firm to schedule a consultation with an experienced Florida child custody and timesharing attorney.