In Florida, one of the biggest challenges in a divorce is for the parties to negotiate an appropriate Parenting Plan and visitation schedule. To illustrate, if parents are unable to come to an agreement in this regard, then a judge will have to render the decision for them. This can lead to a significant amount of frustration, as the Court’s decision may not be the one of your specific choosing. However, for those who are able to work together with their spouse and come to a consensus on the terms of their divorce, they have the option in Florida to work out a parenting plan and visitation arrangement and include it as part of their marital settlement agreement. The marital settlement agreement can be an “all inclusive” document that spells out the critical terms of a divorce, such as equitable distribution, alimony, parental responsibility, visitation, and child support.
While litigation is the best route to take in some instances, it is often preferable (in terms of time, cost and energy) for parties to negotiate a fair settlement regarding a parenting plan and visitation, and to move forward in a positive manner – especially if you have children that are young and sensitive to conflict. In general, there are many benefits associated with agreeing to a specific child custody and visitation agreement. First and foremost, it allows each party to arrange things in a way that specifically meets their needs and particular lifestyle. For example, if one party customarily works nights and the other doesn’t, they can tailor the visitation and custodial arrangement around these scheduling conflicts. Keep in mind that should a court have to get involved in this regard, then each party, as mentioned above, may be left with an arrangement that does not work best for them in light of their unique set of circumstances. Additionally, negotiating a settlement of child custody and visitation also allows the parties to feel that they are in control of their divorce, and its terms. Without a doubt, having the ability to make your own decisions during your divorce case can help make the process run more smoothly and your family to move forward without the drama and pain associated with litigation.
In light of the above, it is important for you to keep in mind that settling issues such as child custody and visitation involves a great deal of flexibility, open-mindedness and a willing to compromise. As such, if you are looking to negotiate child custody and visitation through settlement, consider the following tips that can help you along the way:
Be upfront and honest about everything from the get-go. Divorcing parties must always be open and honest about their finances. The more forthcoming you are, the easier the process will be to work together with your spouse and finalize the various terms of your custody and visitation agreement. The reason for this is that money plays a bit part in this process, and is often a factor that causes negotiations to crumble. The more honest you are, the better chances are for you to successfully work out an appropriate agreement with your spouse.
Try to be flexible and as patient as possible (i.e., keep your emotions at bay). It is understandable how divorces can lead to a lot of negative emotions, including anger, anxiety and even depression. Notwithstanding, the more patient and poker-faced you are during your negotiations, the more likely that you will get what you want, including as much time as possible with your children. In other words, do not let your emotions prevent you from working this out with your spouse to make an arrangement that best works for all of you.
Do not throw your children into the mix. Despite the fact that a child custody and visitation arrangement is about your kids, it does not mean that they have to be part of the decision-making process. Putting your kids in the middle not only leads to anxiety and stress, it also creates polarity and may lead to the breakdown of your negotiations with your ex.
Consider all aspects of your financial situation. When negotiating custody and visitation, it is important to think about all of your expenses, debts, as well as sources of income. For example, it is not recommended for one spouse to try and negotiate a lot of overnight time with their kids if they do not have the income base/sufficient housing situation to comfortably support them. These are things to consider when negotiating a settlement of custody and visitation.
Contact a qualified family law attorney. Regardless of the circumstances, it is always important to consult with a seasoned family law attorney, such as Mr. Cunha, because he will be able advise you of all your rights, legal options, and responsibilities both before and during your divorce proceeding. The biggest mistake people make in this regard is failing to hire an attorney as early in the game as possible, as some errors cannot be reversed and may lead to significant legal headaches later on.
If you are interested in learning more about your legal options regarding child custody or other important family law matter, contact the Law Offices of James S. Cunha, P.A. at (561) 429-3924. Our West Palm Beach family and marital law firm handles family law proceedings throughout the West Palm Beach, Boca Rotan, Wellington, Jupiter, Palm Beach County, Broward County, Martin County areas.