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Category Archives: Co-Parenting Resources

Parenting Plans: Is it A Plan for Success or the Beginning of Future Litigation

divorced parents getting alongI heard a Judge tell a husband and wife in a divorce case, “Although you are divorced now, you will be in each other’s lives for the next 18 years!” As a witness to the Judge’s statement, I can say with complete certainty that both parties were not excited about the Judge’s frank announcement. Most people think when they divorce they are permanently removed from their former spouse’s life.  Realistically, when there are minor children in the picture, it does not work that way.  Why?  You guessed it correctly! Because a new relationship must be forged with the same person you believe you divorced; a relationship that revolves strictly around the needs of your children with no regard of your own needs. That is a difficult concept for many parents to grasp.

I am not a parent and I am not married. Nevertheless, I am a family law attorney. Attorney Silva and I deal with this concept and its associated issues daily. Together we have over twenty-two years of experience dealing with parents from every social and economic background yet they share a common challenge, transforming their joint relationship with the children into an individual relationship joined with the individual relationship of their former spouse.  I have gained a tremendous amount of insight about parenting and as the old adage goes, “proper preparation prevents poor performance.” This certainly applies to parenting. Thus, a well written parenting plan can be a great way to properly prepare for the challenges of parenthood after a divorce.

Since 2008, the Florida Legislature requires parenting plans be created in all divorce cases with children under 18 years of age.  Florida Statute  61.046(14) defines a parenting plan as “a document created to govern the relationship between the parents relating to decisions that must be made regarding the minor child and must contain a time-sharing schedule for the parents and child. The issues concerning the minor child may include, but are not limited to, the child’s education, health care, and physical, social, and emotional well-being.” Therefore, if you divorced in or after 2008 and you have children, “time-sharing schedule” and “right of first refusal” are familiar phrases to you.

Parenting plans can be plans for successful parenting. The parenting plan will work best if Mom and Dad cooperate and respect each other as parents.  Be specific, include anything and everything from time-sharing, tax considerations, insurance, extra-curricular, to telephone and internet rules.  Parenting plans generally contain flexibility provisions which allow parents to make agreed upon changes they deem appropriate without resorting to the Court system.  It becomes a living document, a guide to be used instead of the Court system.  However, without cooperation and respect, the parenting plan becomes more of a weapon one or both parents can use against each other. This will surely land you back in front of a Judge, who will in 99% of the cases tell you that both you and your former spouse have behaved badly.  You will have disagreements about what is best for the children as they grow.  Is that really any different than when you were married?  Learning to discuss your differences in a civilized manner and picking your mountains is important because children mimic their parents and are influenced by their parent’s behavior. In terms of conflict resolution, you can set a great example for your children by conducting yourselves appropriately when problems arise.  It is always best to have any changes, even temporary, done in writing, whether via emails and texts or a formal agreement.

On the other hand, parenting plans can also be the beginning of future litigation.  When parents do not embrace the notion of shared parental responsibility or co-parenting, this can lead to many problems. Shared parental responsibility means that neither parent is superior to the other in regards to decision making. It requires a cooperative and unified effort. For example, disagreements over where your children will attend school or who is allowed to pick them up from school are issues we see regularly at our office.  Recently, a parent moved to a new school district and removed the child from school without the consent of the other parent.  When asked why that was in the best interest of the child, the answer was that it was easier to get the child to and from school before work.  What would your answer be? When making important decisions both parents must consider what is in the best interests of the children, as opposed to what is in the best interests of the individual parent.  That one issue led to costly litigation for both parents.  Can you guess what the Judge ruled?  I often ask my clients to take themselves out of the picture and pretend it is someone else’s child, what would  you advise that parent to do for their child?

In short, successful parenting depends on the parents and their attitudes.  If you approach anything with a positive, cooperative, respectful, and loving spirit, you are sure to get the results that you desire. The most important aspect of co-parenting is the children’s needs above the parents’ needs. The “my way or the high way” attitude goes against the spirit of shared parental responsibility and will be detrimental to the development of happy and healthy children.  Remember, they will be the parents of your grandchildren, how you handle their needs as children may very likely come back to haunt you!

By: Denaro Allen, Esq.; Law Offices of Gail Linscott Silva, P.A.

Denaro Allen, Esq. can be reached at www.kissimmeelaw.net

Denaro Allen pic

 

Co-parents! Do you have a will? Who will get your children?

Mother Bathing Baby (12-18 Months)

Many parents don’t think they need a will, especially young parents. The truth is that having a will is very important at any age. Have you ever thought about who would have guardianship over your children if something was to happen to you. If you don’t make plans for that now, and something was to happen to you, the state would decide where your children would live and who would be responsible for them.

I used to think about that a lot when my daughter was young because she was afraid to go to her father’s house and she often said “Mommy, what if you die?” I would assure her that nothing was going to happen to me, but in the back of my mind I kept wondering “What if it did”?

What about you? Have you made arrangements yet? If not, hopefully you just won’t think about it but take action and draw up a will now. Whether your children are young, grown, or in between, planning can get complicated. That’s why I think it’s important for you to use a professional to help you sort out the details. When you receive your will, make sure that your co-parent has a copy. You can download a copy in your My Turn Your Turn journal  and share it with your co-parent. You can email your entry to anyone you choose as well.

I saw an article on the BabyCenter website that was very informative, “Why every parent needs a will”.  I thought this article was done very well. It suggested that people hire a professional to draw up their will but it also gave tips for preparation and what you need to do if you want to draft it yourself.

I recommend that you check with your employer to see if your benefits package includes some kind of  pre-paid legal or will preparation plan. If not, you can contact an attorney and have them help you draft your will and/or guardianship papers. It’s okay to procrastinate about some things, but when it comes to your children and their future, this is not something you should take lightly. Taking care of this important issue will give you some peace of mind.

Of course, we all hope that you will live to a ripe old age and have many wonderful years with your children and even their children. However,  when it comes to your children’s future, you can never be too careful.

Tracy

 

Visit us on our official website at www.MyTurnYourTurn.com. My Turn Your Turn is a co-parenting website designed to help organize families and improve communication between co-parents sharing children due to divorce or separation.  Specializing in co-parenting tools and shared parenting resources including an online custody calendar,  online divorce journal, child support tracker and more for blended families, single parents and high conflict divorce cases.

 

Parents have you given your teenager a hug today?

Teen Daughter Kissing MotherI came across an article that talked about how important hugs are and how they benefit a child’s emotional well-being, even in their teenage years. Therapists say about 8-12 hugs a day is best for emotional wellbeing.http://www.sharecare.com/question/hugs-important-to-emotional-health

That got me thinking about my own childhood and I was trying to remember if I received a lot of hugs. From my mom? No! I can’t remember her ever hugging me.  Hugs from my dad? Yes but more of the tousling my hair (knuckle sandwiches), pretending to get my nose between his fingers and the overall love that he showed which made me really feel special.  My siblings? No not until we were much older.

I think that growing up I was not emotionally secure. I felt insecure and it took me many years to feel worthy of love and have the inner strength to know that I could do anything I set my mind to.  I definitely spent years seeking attention and approval from many different people. It wasn’t until I had a daughter of my own that I realized hugs had been missing in my own childhood. I couldn’t hug her enough.  I didn’t understand why my mother was not more affectionate with me and my sisters. To make matters worse she adored my brother (10 years younger than my younger sister) and he never lacked the hugs and attention from her like we did.

Parents, I want to encourage you to hug your children. Maybe not overdo it with your teenagers in public so that they are embarrassed, but let them know how special they are. Maybe start with a  loving pat on the back several times a day.  Maybe you already do that. If hugs are missing in your life, I know that it can feel uncomfortable to start now but it is really important to have that physical, I love you, contact with your children. Research shows that inwardly they are craving it, no matter what they say.

Here’s are some sites that have a lot of good information on hugs:

“Hugs are good for you”. http://www.squidoo.com/hugs-are-good-for-you#module12448682

“Can a hug make teenagers less terrible.” http://www.scotsman.com/news/can-a-hug-make-teenagers-less-terrible-1-1090161

“Do teens need hugs?”  http://ronaejull.com/2012/06/21/do-teens-need-hugs/

I would love to hear how you connect with your teenagers. Have you hugged them today? What is your advice on how other parents can get started to implement that into their daily life.

I send you a hug,

Tracy

Visit us on our official website at www.MyTurnYourTurn.com. My Turn Your Turn is a co-parenting website that organizes families and improves communication between co-parents sharing children due to divorce or separation.  Specializing in co-parenting tools and shared parenting resources including an online custody calendar,  online divorce journal, child support tracker and more for blended families, single parents and high conflict divorce cases.

 
 
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