The children come first. That’s a saying that we hear scattered throughout news articles, commercials, pop culture, public service announcements, and in discussions with friends and family.
What does it really mean, though? Well, in the context of recent legislation passed in Florida, it means that parenting plans can be decided by the court if a divorcing couple doesn’t seem to be able to agree on what’s best for their child.
First and foremost, a parenting plan is the legal document that dictates almost everything related to the rights and responsibilities when dealing with a child in and after a divorce. It is the document that, among other things, controls who gets custody, who gets parental visitation rights, whether there will be child support, and whether there are any special requirements for healthcare and school-related matters.
Parenting plans are absolutely crucial in a divorce filing, and for good reason. Going through a divorce can be an extremely traumatizing thing for a fully-grown adult, but for a child, whose entire existence was built around the family they were born into, a divorce can be permanently life-changing. That is why everything relating to them needs to be spelled out in easy to follow black-and-white. The more structured and organized the entire divorce process can be, the sooner and easier the child will be able to come to grips with their new situation.
As mentioned above, if agreements cannot be made as to particular portions of the parenting plan, and this is often the case, the court can and will make the decision on behalf of the parents. This is not to punish the parents for disagreeing, but rather this is for the child’s behalf. The court will examine the issue in question, determine the best possible outcome given all available data, and make a legally-binding declaration to both parents.
This may or may not work out in your benefit, so it is very important to try to work things out with your spouse if it is at all possible. Keep in mind, however, that even if you and your spouse agree on the best course of action, it can be over-turned by the court if they determine it is not in the child’s best interest.
If you are concerned about parenting plans, or would like to formulate one with your soon-to-be ex, please get in touch with a family law attorney today. They will be able to help you get set up for the best possible future for you and your loved ones.