In divorce cases involving minor children, parents may work together to design a parenting schedule and parenting plan that will work for their family and then present the plan to the court for its approval. If the parties in a divorce case cannot reach an agreement about where the children will reside and what the parenting schedule will look like, the court will make those decisions according to what it feels is in the best interest of the children. In families where there are multiple children, both parents who create their own parenting agreements and courts which issue orders regarding residence and parenting time usually decide to keep siblings together. Every family is unique, though, and there have been situations in which families have decided to separate siblings or courts have issued orders which have the effect of separating siblings, based upon the fact that in those situations, the effect of doing so is in the best interest of the children.
Sometimes, the children, themselves, suggest that separate residences, paired with time spent together, will work best for them. There may be one child who is a lot older than the others and having a primary residence apart from their younger brothers and sisters may be appealing to them. Also, if some children stayed with one parent and some stayed with the other when the parties started maintaining separate living arrangements, the parents (or the court, if the parents are unable to reach an agreement) may feel as though the status quo which was established earlier in the divorce process should not be disturbed. Situations involving half-siblings sometimes lead to separate residences, if the children have not formed close bonds with each other. Because a particular scenario may involve siblings, this fact alone will not be the controlling factor in the court determining the children’s best interests in establishing a time-sharing schedule. Similarly, families of children who attend different schools may need to have children reside separately for logistical reasons.When a family contemplates a parenting agreement that divides siblings between primary residences, they can increase the odds that a court will approve their plan as being in the best interest of the children if the proposed agreement also provides for the children to spend plenty of time together and with each of their parents. Parenting agreements can be designed in any way a family chooses, and if the unique needs of a family would be best served by separating siblings or groups of siblings, parents can create a plan that would accomplish that. In the rare case that parents proposed an agreement that would have siblings living separately when it would not be in their best interest to do so, the court will reject the proposed parenting plan agreement.
If you would like to learn more about your legal options regarding your Florida divorce or any other important family law matter, please contact the Law Offices of James S. Cunha, P.A. at (561) 429-3924 or via email at [email protected]. We serve family law clients who are located in Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Wellington, Jupiter, Palm Beach County, Broward County, and Martin County.