Category Archives: Dealing with the Courts

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

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12 co-parenting resolutions we should all consider in 2013

photo (2)Here we are again, with another new year under way. By now you have had a chance to think about your resolutions and may have even made a list. Times have changed and my children are grown up with families of their own.  I can’t help but sit and reminisce about my co-parenting years. It seem like every New Year’s Eve I had the same old list, lose 20 pounds, read the Bible every day, spend more time with the kids, do better at work, eat healthier, blah blah blah. Of course they say hindsight is 20/20, so now looking back I see that I should have concentrated more on working on my shared custody relationship and made it more about reducing the stress and the effects of divorce on my children.

Here are my  “Top 12 co-parenting New Year’s resolutions” for all of you who are in a shared custody situation now:

1.)   I will be grateful that I am in a shared parenting relationship and that my ex wants to have a relationship with my children. Many children don’t have a relationship with their father/mother.

2.) I will build up my children’s father’s and never say disparaging things about my co-parent because it ultimately hurts my children and tears down their self-esteem.

3.) I will use the co-parenting tools available online for my children’s visitation schedule to reduce stress and keep the lines of communication open with my ex. I will be respectful when and if I speak to or see my co-parent.

4.) I will spend time with my children together and individually so they know how much I love them.

5.) I will take some parenting courses or read some co-parenting books (like “The Smart Stepmom” by Ron L. Deal) to improve my shared custody experience. I can never have too much understanding of what my children are going through because of my divorce or being in a blended family.

6.) I will remember to thank God daily for my children and remember that just because I have custody does not mean that I own my children. I will set guidelines though.

7.) I will remain calm at all times, even when the child support arrives late or not at all. Don’t take it out of the kids and don’t make them the go-betweens for me and my ex.

8.) I will get organized by keeping an online custody calendar so that I will know when I can make plans to spend some quality time with friends when my children are at my coparent’s house.

9.) I will make an honest attempt to allow my children to spend as much time as possible with my ex’s relatives understanding that it’s important to keep those bonds strong so that my children have a good support system.

10.) I will take advantage of the parenting resources available and become the best parent that I can be so my children don’t suffer the effects, as lot of children do, of having gone through a high conflict divorce.

11.) I will create new family traditions that make life fun for me and my children.

12.) Model the character traits that I want my children to grow up to be like. Live with dignity compassion and respect for all others.

These 12 resolutions may seem like common sense, but as with any goal, writing them down and looking at them on a regular basis keeps them present in your mind and helps achieve the results that you want.

Remember everything that you do teachers your children and leaves lasting impressions in their minds you cannot erase later.

You may want to make your own list of resolutions that pertain to your particular situation. Are you a single parent sharing custody? Separated and sharing children? Thinking about divorce? Divorced with joint custody? A blended family? The combinations are endless but the common goal should be that we all want to provide the healthiest environment for our kids.

Share your list with us and…Good luck!


About My Turn Your Turn
Visit us on our official website at 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.


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Stick to the Facts in Family Court

Going to court can be one of the scariest ordeals in your lifetime. When in the process of divorce or a custody battle you may be in court several times. I was in court at least 10-15 times with Jillian’s father. He often took me to court on bogus charges and thank God the judge knew what he was up to. One time the judge told us that the next time we came into court one of us would be going to jail. I was mortified, but someone in the courtroom reassured me that he was talking directly to my ex. It was embarrassing to say the least. We wasted a lot of court time over petty things.

I remember another time when both, I and my ex, had filed for restraining orders and we were waiting for the judge to make a ruling. The room I was in started spinning and I was blacking out.  I did not faint but I thought I was going to out of fear. I don’t wish that feeling on any parent.

Here are some tips on being organized and ready for court.

1). It is always best to have an attorney when going into court. Attorneys know your state laws and how to fill out the proper documents, what your rights are, etc.

2). Be organized and prepared so you can give the correct information to your attorney. Know your facts; dates, times, incident or police report numbers, witness information, addresses, phone numbers etc.

3). When in front of the judge, remember this is not “your” child. Judges do not like the phrase “my” daughter, “my” son. They like “our” daughter “our” son. Remember the child is not your possession. Judges will rule with “what is the best interest of the child” and if you act like you own that child, it will work against you.

4). Speak, only when it is your turn to speak in court and keep your answers brief and to the point. Keep your emotions under control. Outbursts will not benefit your case and excessive emotions will make you look unstable. Be factual and have evidence to back up what you say when possible.

5). Try to keep your children out of the middle. Judges do not like to involve children in the court room. Children should not have to pick sides and they should not know all the details if the dispute. Of course this changes with certain circumstances such as child abuse, drug addiction, and other instances where the child’s safety is at risk.

6). Most importantly always put your child’s best interest first before your own. Judges can usually detect when a parent is out for revenge and putting their own wants first before their children.

7). Listen to the advice of your attorney and follow all the court’s rulings but continue to keep track of everything. One thing that I found out is that you never know when you may end up back in court. Being prepared is essential.

I’m glad that my children are older now and those court days are behind me. I hope this helps you understand that finding the right attorney, preparation, and putting the needs of your child first is imperative when you go to family court.

We wish you luck,

Tracy L Taylor

Visit us on our official website at 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.


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