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Examples of parenting provisions you may want to use

If you can master the art of dealing with your ex-spouse diplomatically and patiently on a daily basis, you will have achieved an incredible feat. Not only that, but it will support your child's healthy growth and development. One way to support your ability to be diplomatic and sidestep potential areas of conflict and disagreement is to create a carefully-planned parenting agreement that includes well-thought-out parenting provisions.

A parenting provision is a clause or statement that you and the other parent agree to within your custody arrangements. They help set the ground rules for parenting, discipline, schooling, medical care, religion, child custody exchanges and more.

When is the best time to establish paternity?

Many Florida parents have suffered due to questions about establishing paternity. Often, the one who wants to establish paternity is the father so that he can pursue the right to spend time with his children via regularly scheduled visitations. It might also be the mother, who pursues child custody in order to receive child support payments. Whether you're the mother or the father of a child, the best time to establish paternity is at the hospital, just after your child is born.

Establishing the name of the biological father not only benefits both parents, as it allows the biological father the right to establish a visitation schedule and the mother the right to receive child support, but it also benefits the child. Indeed, family psychologists -- and the Florida court system's interpretation of family law -- tend to agree that children are best served when they build strong and loving relationship bonds with both parents.

Parenting provisions that address religion

Most people wisely shy away from discussing religion and politics with their family, friends and business associates. But if you're raising a child with your ex-spouse, the topic of religion - particularly the religion under which your child is raised -- is bound to become a serious issue if you and your spouse maintain competing viewpoints. To avoid this potential point of contention between you and your ex, you should get serious about the matter during child custody negotiations, so you can pin things down for the future.

Some parents may want to specifically state the religion under which the child will be raised. Others may want to state that the child will be raised under the religious practices of each parent during the times when the child is with that parent.

Are you keeping a child care journal?

It might seem like a remote possibility at this time, but spouses and their marital situations can go through a lot of intense changes after a child is born. In many cases, the stresses of parenting are enough to highlight the loose bonds that have held a marriage together, and a couple can split apart. Sometimes, one of the individuals is completely blindsided by the decision to divorce, and this spouse could be at a disadvantage during the divorce process if he or she is not prepared.

It's for this reason, that every parent should keep a child care journal. Then, even if the child care journal is never required in court during a child custody battle, at least the parent has a nice diary of his or her parenting years to look back on fondly.

When can a parent lose child custody?

Florida family law courts generally want both of a child's biological parents to be involved in that child's care. Shared visitation is generally the preferred method for handling every custody situation -- when possible.

However, sometimes a parent has problems that lead to the endangerment of the children. In those cases, the court may be inclined to strip that parent of his or her custody rights in order to protect the child.

Can I relocate with my child as a single parent?

Single custodial parents who share custody with a noncustodial parent may find themselves in between a rock and a hard place if they want to move to a new state with their children. Most child custody agreements and child custody orders will restrict the custodial parent from moving too far away from the noncustodial parent when the distance of the move threatens to interfere with the noncustodial parent's visitation rights.

Ultimately, if the noncustodial parent refuses to agree to the move, the custodial parent will need to file a request to relocate with the child, and a family court judge will decide the matter. The most important consideration in making such a determination will be the best interests of the child or children involved.

What are the characteristics of a non-custodial parent?

When you're fighting for full physical custody of your child, it means that you want to be the primary caretaker of your son or daughter, and you want the other parent to merely have visitation rights. If you succeed, you will be known as the "custodial parent," and your child will live with you full time. Meanwhile, the other parent will be characterized as the "noncustodial parent" and have the right to visit the child according to a regular visitation schedule.

To prevail in your child custody case as the custodial parent, you will need to highlight why the other parent was not the primary caretaker and how the parent rarely participated in child-rearing tasks. Here are a few characteristics you'll want to highlight about the other parent to achieve this goal:

  • The parent rarely bathed, groomed or dressed the children.
  • The parent didn't prepare meals for the children.
  • The parent always relied on you to buy and wash clothes for the children.
  • The parent never participated in taking the children to the doctor for medical appointments.
  • The parent didn't attend sporting events, recitals or other extracurricular events.
  • The parent didn't drive the children to appointments or events.
  • The parent never assisted with homework.
  • The parent was not involved with teachers and skipped open house events.
  • The parent rarely enjoyed leisurely activities with the children.

How to share summer vacations with a long-distant parent

If you live on the other side of the country -- or on the other side of the world -- from your child's other parent, you might need to come up with some creative solutions to ensure that both of you get to spend adequate time with the children.

In most long-distance parenting relationships, one parent will have full physical custody, which means that the parent who lives at a distance will not be able to spend that much time with the children throughout the year. To help the children establish strong bonds with the parent who lives away, most families arrange to have the children spend an extended period of time with that parent during summer breaks.

Plan for changes in visitation to avoid arguments

Visitation is a major sticking point in almost every divorce case involving children. No parent wants to lose time with their child, so having to divide time is difficult.

Visitation schedules may have to change if parents have nonstandard work schedules, and children may end up with new activities or events that take away from one parent's time unfairly.

How do you spend your child visitation days?

The worst thing a noncustodial parent can hear from their child on visitation day is, "Daddy/Mommy, I'm bored!" It hurts to think that your children aren't having fun with you. And it's even worse when a noncustodial parent receives this kind of feedback from the other parent after the children go home. "The kids were bored all weekend, why didn't you do something more interesting with them?"

Obviously, your job as a "parent" is not about being the entertainer. Nevertheless, if you want to spruce up your visitation time with your kids, you might want to think of some creative activities - and ask your children for ideas as well. To prime the pump of your creativity in this regard, here are three simple ideas that both the kids and you will surely enjoy:

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