Divorcing couples with children often find the process of developing a visitation schedule emotionally taxing and difficult to agree on. All parents want to be an important part of their child’s lives, and after divorce, it can seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, during divorce, the best interests of the child or children are always the primary concern. When visitation agreements or parenting plans are drafted, several important factors may be discussed, such as the proximity of parental residences to one another, the employment schedules of each parent, school locations and schedules, and whether visitation should be supervised.
Once the basic factors influencing visitation have been established, parents will agree to the schedule and the document will be signed and sent to the court for finalizing. It is important that both parents understand their individual rights and responsibilities, as well as the enforceability of the agreement. If one parent refuses to uphold the agreement, then the other can file a petition for modification of custody or of the visitation agreement.
One of the best agreements that parents can establish together during the divorce process is a parenting plan. Parenting plans go beyond the basic legal division of custody and support and move into the specific details of the agreement. Many parenting plans are drafted with the aid of an experienced Florida family law attorney or certified mediator to ensure that they are legally valid.
If parents cannot agree to a parenting plan, the court may recommend or order a “parenting coordinator” to get involved and help resolve conflict. The parenting coordinator works with the couple together or individually if needed, to establish a plan that is agreeable to all parties. Some attorneys are parenting coordinators as well, or can make recommendations to parenting coordinators who can help divorcing couples sort through their parenting plan needs.
Florida child custody and visitation law is geared toward the rights of both parents, and the best interests of the child. In most cases, the best interests of the child include having both parents involved in their lives, guiding and supporting them. Most Florida divorce cases are managed under the presumption that both parents will be involved in the important decision-making process, as well as be responsible for the upbringing of the child. This includes decisions regarding schooling, healthcare, and religious affiliation. When one parent does not agree with the decisions of the other, mediation or collaborative law may provide options for dispute resolution.
Florida law also takes into consideration that life happens and sometimes modifications may need to be made. In such cases, the parent requesting a modification has the right to file a petition with the court expressing his or her concerns or requests. In some cases, if one parent is negligent in his or her duty, the other parent can petition the court for an enforcement action.
To have your visitation questions answered, meet with a Gainesville child visitation attorney. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.