In the state of Florida, child custody and visitation are lumped under the category of “time sharing,” which essentially boils down to both parents writing out a detailed plan for the time that a child spends with each parent.
Depending on whether both parents were able to work together to formulate the plan, or the court had to design one themselves, sticking to the plan is very important, not only for the child’s benefit, but also to adhere to the family court’s guidelines.
How to stick to the plan
Once the plan has been formulated and put in place, the hard part becomes sticking to it. Here are a few tips to help you keep it up, month in and month out:
- Talk to your employer – The time you spend with your child is precious, and keeping them (or your ex-spouse) waiting because you’re still at work is never a good idea. Discuss your time-sharing plan ahead of time with your employer to make sure that you will be immediately available to your child when it’s your turn.
- Have activities already in mind – Depending on where you live, there are always things to do out and about, so spending a few minutes getting ideas in mind for when you have your child can go a long way.
- Build some rituals together – Humans are creatures of habit, so whether it’s Saturday morning pancake breakfast, an ice cream trip on Wednesday nights, or building a new model plane together, having a pre-determined thing for you and your child to look forward to can be a great help.
- Work with your ex-spouse – This one might not always be possible, depending on the circumstances of the divorce, but communicating with your spouse can make a huge difference. If you have to work late one evening, or have an emergency that calls you out of town, being able to communicate that with your child’s other parent can help smooth out a lot of potential rough patches.
- Stay involved with your child, even when you don’t have them – This can be as simple as sending them funny emails, calling them on their birthday, or going to any applicable parent meetings at their school. Just because they’re not staying at your house doesn’t mean they’re not currently your child, so try to stay as active in their life as you can.
In some ways, sticking to a time-sharing plan can be even trickier than simply having full custody, but hopefully with these tips, you find adhering to it a bit easier.
If you are in need of modifying an existing time-sharing plan, or are in need of setting one up to begin with, be sure to get in touch with a family law attorney right away. They’ll be able to answer all your questions and help you take the appropriate next steps.