Florida is one of the few states in the U.S. that no longer identifies one parent as the custodial parent and the other as the visiting parent after a divorce. As you may know, during your divorce you will need to work with your former spouse to create a parenting plan to schedule how and when your child will visit each of you.
Divorce is already a painful and frustrating process, and having to meet, potentially multiple times, to schedule when you will see your child can give way to a new level of stress. Try to remain calm and remember that you’re doing this for your child.
Planning each day
One of the first steps for you and your former spouse to take is to sit down and plan where your child will be each day of the year. Depending on your circumstances, it may be better for one parent to see the child on weekends. It may be best for the child to live with only one parent for now. Whatever you decide on, make sure that each day of the year is accounted for.
Additionally, plan for holidays and vacations. Will your child visit you for Christmas and the three days leading up to it? Will they go with your ex to the cabin for Fourth of July weekend?
You will also need to consider transportation. Will you always be transporting your child? Will a grandparent be driving? Will your child need to take different school bus routes on different days of the week?
Take time to plan for the unexpected while writing your parenting plan. Have contingencies for times your child is suddenly sick and can’t visit the other parent. Know what to do if your child is unexpectedly invited to a sleepover or birthday party and misses a day with you. Keep a backup plan in case your car breaks down and you suddenly can’t be the on to pick them up after sports practice.
Anticipating variables is difficult, but spending time trying to plug every possible leak in your plan will make living in two households much smoother and easier for your child in the long run. If you’re having trouble planning for the unexpected, consider looking back over the last few years at the unexpected situations your child faced and plan for them again.
Do you need a lawyer?
Hiring an attorney when you are creating your parenting plan does not have to indicate aggression. Family law attorneys prepare parenting agreements often, and can be a major help during the drafting process. A lawyer can also be a shield should your former spouse’s attorney include legal details you don’t understand.
There are also times when an attorney may be a necessity. If, for example, you and the other parent are unable to reach an agreement on how time should be shared, then it will have to be settled in court.
Divorces are a painful and frustrating process. Try to remember that this step is purely for your child and their best interests. Think of their best future as you craft your parenting plan and make sure it is something they can reach.