The parenting plan is an important part of any Florida divorce which involves children. Parents who are involved in creating a parenting plan may feel as if they have to choose between creating a parenting plan that is flexible to meet their needs and the needs of their soon to be former spouse, and creating a parenting plan that has enough detail in it so that everyone’s rights and responsibilities are spelled out clearly.
Some parents may feel that including fewer details in their parenting plan will give them more freedom to “go with the flow”, and make adjustments as needed. These parents may be unwittingly setting themselves up for future conflicts, when situations arise where decisions must be made on issues that are not discussed in the parenting plan and the parents have different ideas about how the issues should be handled. In contrast, couples who put a great deal of time and effort into creating a detailed parenting plan are often more successful in abiding by the terms of the plan, even when situations arise which involve making a decision or a change to the parenting schedule or some other element of the plan. The reason for this is that plans which go into greater detail regarding the expectations of what each parent will do, as well as how the parents will make decisions provide a structure for adjusting the parenting plan to accommodate the changing needs of the children and their parents.
Many parenting plans do not address issues that are likely to arise in the future. This is understandable, because divorce can be contentious enough as it is, without bringing up more issues for everyone to fight over. However, having some potentially difficult conversations up front can leave everyone feeling much better as they move forward, because expectations have been clearly established.
One example of this type of issue is how and when new partners should be introduced to the children. It is likely that one or both parents will meet someone that they want to have a relationship with, and if there is a plan in place for how and when to introduce that person to the rest of the family, many fights may be avoided because the issue was discussed ahead of time, instead of when one parent became involved in a new relationship.
It is also helpful for parents to plan for the future and go beyond merely establishing a parenting schedule that works with their current work schedules and the kids’ school schedule and activities. Taking an extra step and including a procedure for reviewing and adjusting the parenting schedule could prevent disagreements about how to change the schedule when a change is needed.
A third future planning issue which may be inadvertently left out of some parenting plans, particularly for couples with very young children, is the issue of how to handle the kids’ transition into adulthood. Depending upon the ages of the children, parents may not even have had a discussion about how they feel or what they expect regarding college, let alone how they plan to pay for it. Since this is a financial issue as well as a parenting issue, it could create a lot of conflict later on as the kids approach adulthood.
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. today at (561) 429-3924 or via email at [email protected].