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When I File for Divorce, What Will Happen to my Children?

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When children are involved in the divorce process, it becomes even more complicated than it would be otherwise. There is more than just deciding who has to drive your child to dance lessons. If you and your spouse don’t agree on child issues, the court will decide the parental responsibility of each parent, what the time-sharing schedule will look like, and the terms of an outlined parenting plan to help you and your family after the divorce. The court will especially take into consideration the child(ren)’s best interest(s). See Florida Parental Responsibility Law. This is why it is best to sit down and discuss with your spouse prior to beginning the divorce process, to see if you can agree on not only all terms of your divorce, but specifically the child issues. This will leave not only your own future, but your children’s future in your own hands.

Parental Responsibility

Pursuant to Florida Statute 61.13, parental responsibility involves the major decisions for the child(ren) which customarily includes medical treatment, childcare, education, and the like. Per the statute, “the court shall order that the parental responsibility for a minor child be shared by both parents unless the court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child.” Meaning either you and your spouse can agree and choose to go down the uncontested route, or the court will decide whether you will have shared parental responsibility or whether one spouse will have sole parental responsibility, or if one parent may have the ultimate decision-making authority in the event the parents are unable to agree. If one parent is awarded sole parental responsibility, that parent can legally make all major decisions for the minor child(ren) without the other parent’s input and advise the parent thereafter. See Florida Types of Parental Responsibility. Reaching an agreement with your spouse on all child(ren) issues and terms surrounding the care of your child(ren) will allow you to avoid this intricate, difficult, process for both you and your child(ren).

Time-sharing

According to Florida Statute 61.13, when a time-sharing schedule is created, the parties themselves can construct the schedule as long as it is in the best interest of the minor child(ren). Time-sharing is typically established so that both parents have equal (or close to equal) timesharing, one parent has majority time-sharing, or sometimes one parent may have limited time-sharing or supervised timesharing. Supervised time sharing is established when there are credible instances that may affect the child(ren)’s best interest such as when abuse, neglect, abandonment, mental health, domestic violence, etc. are at issue. Discussing all options with your spouse can ensure your child(ren)’s needs are put before your own.

Parenting Plan

All terms surrounding the care of your children must be outlined within a Parenting Plan, which is required in Florida when the parties have minor child(ren). When establishing a Parenting Plan, there are three (3) areas items that the court reassures are in place. These include:

  1. A plan for day-to-day parental responsibility;
  2. The time-sharing schedule, including as to weekly, summer, vacation and holiday schedules; and
  3. A plan for child-related communications between the parents.

It is best to work together as co-parents and place your child(ren)’s best interests as the priority as you and your spouse discuss your Parenting Plan. In the event you need some assistance, there are several resources available that can assist you such as a mediators and parent coordinators.  Remember that divorce can be harder on your child(ren) than you, so planning ahead and having amicable discussions at the beginning of this process can ensure your child(ren)’s interests are of the utmost importance and assist towards an amicable resolution. Embarking on your divorce journey with confidence begins with being well-prepared. Download our FREE guide, “10 Things to Do Before Filing for Divorce Checklist,” to arm yourself with critical insights and actionable steps for the road ahead.  SplytUp is here to simplify your split and guide your future, helping you to move forward on solid ground. Secure your smoother pathway today by downloading your free guide.

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