By: John Knutton, Esquire
With the holidays fast approaching, parents who are thinking of getting a divorce or those who are currently going through a divorce need to contemplate a time-sharing schedule in order to place the needs and best interests of their child(ren) first. During the divorce process, attorneys for both sides will attempt to have the parties agree to a Parenting Plan. Such a plan is required in all divorce cases involving minor child(ren) and if the parties cannot agree to a plan, then a judge will ultimately establish one. A Parenting Plan includes information such as how medical expenses are split, where the child(ren) will attend school, what extracurricular activities they will participate in, and which parent they will spend the holidays with.
The best interests of the minor child(ren) is the primary concern in developing a Parenting Plan. Such factors in creating a Parenting Plan include the capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required; the anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation; the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child(ren) as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent; and the length of time the child(ren) has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity. A full list of the factors can be found at Florida Statutes Section 61.13(3).
Holidays can always be tricky for children of parents who are no longer together. Oftentimes, a Parenting Plan will rotate the holidays between parents so that one parent gets one major holiday (such as Thanksgiving) and the other parent gets the next major holiday (such as Christmas). Further, Parenting Plans can allow for children to travel between the parents on specific days (i.e. one parent gets Christmas Break from release of school to December 25th at 2:00 p.m., and the other parent gets December 25th at 2:00 p.m. until return to school after the holidays) so that both parents can spend time with the child(ren) during the holidays.
Determining a Parenting Plan can be an emotional, time-consuming, and tricky process, especially if the other parent does not agree. It is crucial to obtain a local, experienced family law attorney who can help guide you through this difficult time. Contact the experienced attorneys at Compass Law and we can sit down and inform you of your options in creating a Parenting Plan that works best for you.