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Category Archives: IN THE SPOTLIGHT

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

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How To Protect Your Income When Child Support and Spousal Support Are Included

Mother and Daughter Enjoying a Video GameMost people understand the need and benefit of having insurance to protect their income from disability or loss of life.  If your household income depended on a spouse’s salary and they passed away unexpectedly, you’d want to have life insurance coverage to replace that income.  If you became unable to work for a period of time, you would also value disability protection to provide income during that time-frame.  You need to consider if you’re divorced and your household income includes child support to care for your children or spousal support to provide maintenance while you secure other means of income.

If your ex-husband passes away or becomes disabled long- term and he doesn’t have the proper insurance protection, those income payments from him will cease.  Your ex may have group coverage available through his employer, but remember that if his employment status changes, the insurance coverage may change as well.  Similarly, he may have the option to lower current coverage to save out- of- pocket costs.

Make sure that you and your lawyer negotiate an appropriate amount of coverage to be required in the final divorce settlement agreement.  What amount should you try to negotiate?  That includes figuring the approximate time that alimony and child support will be paid out and how many children you have.  Other factors such as liabilities, group coverage, and long-term goals such as college expenses for the children can play a part in calculating an appropriate level of protection as well.  Be sure that you consult a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ for needs based on your personal circumstances.

Not only checking if you have the coverage, but also verifying that you are the beneficiary of the life policy is important.  Your divorce attorney should be able to include in your divorce agreement that you must receive evidence of your ex’s insurance protection; particularly coverage with you as the beneficiary.

The consequences of not making sure your ex-husband has enough life and disability insurance to protect you and your children could affect you for many years to come.  Requiring life and disability protection with you as the beneficiary can be included in your divorce settlement.  This is an important consideration that we see too often overlooked; especially if you’re currently in an amicable relationship, it’s hard to foresee how things may change later.  It’s best to lay the groundwork for expectations now.  If you don’t get this into the initial agreement it can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to change after the divorce is finalized.

Thank you,

Travis Francis

As the owner of a financial company for the past 12 years, Travis witnessed many women take a backseat in the financial area, only to end up completely lost and overwhelmed when they lost their husbands to divorce or death. Out of this experience grew 360 refresh®, a unique business designed to guide women through divorce and recovery in all aspects of life. 360 refresh® assists in finding balance in areas such as psychological, physical, financial/legal, and self-improvement. At home, Travis and his wife stay busy chasing their two young sons around and are expecting another child soon. www.360refresh.com

About My Turn Your Turn
Visit us on our official website at www.MyTurnYourTurn.com and sign up for your free 30-day trial. My Turn Your Turn is a co-parenting website that helps 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.

 

 

Always Remain Calm (ARC)

Father and Daughter at the BeachI am a single father who had struggled through a nasty divorce in a million of ways. The one thing I kept front and center were my children throughout all the proceedings since they are my world.

With all the emotions and negative energy surrounding you trying to prove you as a competent parent I use this acronym 24/7 no matter what happened in the past or might happen in the future. Now please do not take this as a soft approach of any kind I do deal with the issues at hand but with a calm state of mind. I hope that some of you or all of you remember to keep this in your minds regardless of the tactics used in family courts, disagreements, arguments with your ex. After all these events, one who loses the most is none other than your children.

This is not about something Noah Built but he might have used it.

To some if they just hear it instead of seeing it written ARC conjures up a Man and his animals, safe refuge on a Sea.

To read it one might think of it the graceful movement of a curveball as it streaks by a hitter’s outstretched bat or perhaps the glorious shape of a rainbow on a summer’s day bending down to its storied pot of gold. And yet it is an Acronym from that which I mention as ARC or “Always Remain Calm”.

Don’t lose your temperament and ethics at any cost try staying cool or chill out or even better control your temper.

The challenge is to find a calm state within you and to persist over that. We should not be disturbed or perturbed rather we should be at peace with our self.

Growing up I was told to do many things “Be Strong, toughen up, stop your whining and get on with it. Be a man and act like a matured person.

First as a boy, then as an adolescent and continuing into early adulthood, I was given many directives about how to comfort myself like an adult. Most of them had to do with a façade I was supposed to put on, which would essentially hide way my true feelings.

At no time during my personal happiness would rely, critically, upon the level of my emotional maturity. In Fact, in my world of boys to men, the concept of emotional maturity was rarely even touched upon, and the mechanism for achieving it-nothing at all. One of the catch phrases bandied about quite a bit these days is emotional intelligence or Eq; generally used to refer to the ability to understand the emotional dynamics of a given social setting it is a term that is generally outward looking. Emotional maturity, to my mind is not the only something that is inward looking but also inward handling.

Take the story of the young cowboy who, when searching for a group of stray cattle, spots them in the distance and rushes toward the poor animals in a frantic effort to corral them.

All this anxious action accomplishes is to scatter them even further. His older, wiser ranch partner, seeing the very same wayward animals ambles over to him in no rush and certainly not in a hurry to quietly and calmly round them up and head them back home again. His years in the saddle, his maturity as a working cowboy, tell him that adding anxious behaviour to already difficult situation just makes things worse. By remaining calm and maintaining focus on his goal, he goes about his business a little more slowly, but he accomplishes his task a whole lot faster.

Wiser is the true key word in the last paragraph for me. Back in the day, wisdom was something that carried real heft. The refinement of healthy perspective tough the consistent, repeated application of practical knowledge seems to have lost its value as life experiences have lengthened, and as everyone has become obsessed with eternal youth. Wisdom generally brings as its corollary calmness, because a wise person has been through many things, and is not easily disturbed or perturbed. The positive effect of experience is that it gives us the chance to understand what is going on around us, while it is going on around us. Instead of relying on hindsight to give us 20/20 vision, we can rely on our own innate knowledge to give us the perspective that we need, and perspective is a powerful tool in achieving calmness.

Phrases routinely offered for advice on staying calm include” take a step back””and “Try to see it from the other persons perspective”-these and their like are very well intended. Yet, to achieve a sturdy sense of calm, one that will withstand the rattling of our cages by others, Focus must be placed on the idea of practiced behaviour that clearly present  within us, and readily available to be put into action. Like the wise old cowboy in his saddle, you have to have been to a few round ups before you’ll get the hang of it.

Even more so than the wisdom, the ability to remain calm is a natural by product of emotional maturity. Understanding how we feel in certain situations, and now we react to the emotional inputs of others, allows us to behave in a fairly predictable manner. By practising being conscientious towards ourselves and others, the prediction will be for the calm weather. Emotional maturity is a positive state of being, and resilient calmness has a positive effect on our environment and the people in it. The two go simultaneously hand in hand. It is important that always remaining calm must be seen as a goal, not as an absolute. Getting there takes time and effort, and failure and setbacks, so we must be patient with ourselves as we make our way there. The voyage must be valued as a much as the destination.

How do we achieve this goal? Through hard work, repeated often. Outside of effort in the element of difficulty, there are three ways we can work towards this desirable state of calm.

First we must be thinking about it. Think about being calm, about wanting to be calm. The more we think about being calm the more our mind and body will get used to the idea that this is the way we want to be. This thoughtfulness will instill in us the desire the motivation to remain in a calm state. On top of that, visualization is a key tool at our disposal. Our imagination is a very powerful tool/part of who we are, and it can be employed to take us through the most challenging situations again and again allowing us to practice remaining calm in an emotionally tumultuous world. NOT only does visualization build our emotional muscle memory, it also gives us the edge of predictability and routine. The upsetting acts as others become much more run of the mill, and therefore much less able to get our “goat”. We are able to game out the games of others and our reactions to.(We are most often prone to track other’s activity ignoring ours) Thirdly we must revisit their provocative situations where we have lost our calmness and where we have been able to maintain it intact. Rather than beating ourselves up, or patting ourselves on the back, revisiting our successes and failure gives us the chance to  see where we went wrong or right, to correct our errors and entrench our correct behaviours. If you like photonics, ours’ aim would be to employ the 3 m’s Motivation, mechanics, memory.

Giving thought to calmness will give us the motivation, visualizing calmness will provide us with the mechanics, and employing our memories of situations that require calmness will illuminate a clear path to achieving it.

Here is the fact, Always Remain Calm.

When we inject anger into a difficult situation, we are simply adding fuel to the fire. When we withhold anger (withhold not suppress, for anger put into proper perspective almost always dissipates over time) And instead present our calm, composed self, we rob the fire of its oxygen.

ARC is a means to cross the turbulent waters of life that can be built by any person.

Your life and more importantly your children’s lives will be much better. It’s not easy but it can be done. I can be considered as a proof of this thesis and my son lives with me 50% of the time. So it is “truly your my turn” on an equal fair basis.

You can visit or join my journey here www.youdaman.ca. Being positive is a lot better than being negative, I am living proof.

Thank you,

John

John-1401 the new beginning (1)

 

About My Turn Your Turn

Visit us on our official website at www.MyTurnYourTurn.com and sign up for your free 30-day trial. My Turn Your Turn is a co-parenting website that helps 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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