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Plantation Family Law Blog

Visitation time and child custody: Supervised visits

Sometimes a judge will award a parent supervised visitation rights. Supervised visitation usually becomes necessary following one of the parent's conviction of various crimes, or as a result of a mental condition. For example, the parent with supervised visits might have been convicted of a violent crime, a sex crime or he or she might have a history of child abuse or domestic violence.

If you were awarded supervised visits, you're probably not entirely happy about it. No one wants to be monitored or watched while spending time with their children. However, you might want to try to see the positive side of it. Many years ago, it's more likely that someone would simply not be permitted to have contact with his or her children following conviction of various crimes. Modern family law courts in Florida, however, see the wisdom and value for the best interests of the children to spend time with their biological parents -- even if those parents were convicted of potentially dangerous crimes.

Can a prenuptial agreement help my current or future kids?

The practicality of a prenup cannot be ignored. To put it simply: Responsible couples sign prenuptial agreements before they get married. That's because a prenuptial agreement takes into account the possibility of divorce and helps couples prepare for it in advance to prevent the threat of infighting, costly divorce battles and stressful decisions when they are in difficult emotional states.

One area of divorce, however, that couples cannot prepare for in their prenuptial agreement is the area of child custody. Ultimately, any decision or agreement regarding child custody must be negotiated and approved by the parents and then brought before a judge for approval. However, although a prenuptial agreement wouldn't be able to make predetermined decisions regarding child custody, it can help one's children a great deal during the divorce process. Here are two reasons why:

  1. A prenuptial agreement makes divorce less stressful and less likely to end in argument. When parents are less stressed, less angry and calmer, they are going to be better parents to their children and give their children the extra time and attention they need during and after the divorce process.
  2. A prenuptial agreement can protect the future inheritance of children. Parents who have children from previous marriages can prevent the inheritance of their children from being absorbed by a new spouse in the event of an unexpected death.

Make a plan for revising your parenting arrangements post-divorce

Divorcing parents generally have a lot of freedom when drafting their parenting plans and child custody agreements. As long as a judge agrees that the parenting arrangements are both lawful and serve the best interests of the children involved, the parenting plan will get approved. However, that doesn't mean it will be perfect.

Sometimes, parenting plans will require revision as the child grows and matures and life situations change. As such, parents may want to establish the following guidelines within the plan regarding how to revise and alter it:

  • The parents shall meet at specific intervals – perhaps every other year, once a year or twice a year – to determine if parenting plan changes are required or appropriate.
  • The conditions related to the parenting plan can be revised or supplemented as required by the changing needs of the child and parents. These revisions will be dated, in writing, signed and agreed to by both parents. Both parents will receive a copy of the revised agreement.
  • Parents can ask to change the parenting plan – such as changing the parenting schedule – via written request. The other parent will have two weeks to respond to the request.

Modifying child custody orders to gain physical custody

Imagine you discover that the other parent has abandoned your child, even though he or she has full physical custody. In other words, the other parent is the custodial parent, meaning the child lives with the other parent, and you're the noncustodial parent who only has visitation rights.

The problem is, you've just discovered that the other parent has left your child to live with a friend. Is it possible to revoke the other parent's custodial rights and gain physical custody rights for yourself?

How can I make the most out of child visitation days?

You fought long and hard to have the right to spend every Sunday with your children. Now that you have the visitation rights you desired, however, you're facing a different kind of challenge: How do you make the most of these visits, and how you make sure your children feel supported and loved?

Here are a few tips to make sure your child visits are as smooth and beneficial as possible:

  • Be flexible with the other parent regarding your visitation schedule and times and locations for pickups and dropoffs to facilitate easy relations.
  • Always be respectful with your ex during your interactions.
  • Make sure your children feel safe and secure when they're visiting your home.
  • Create routines or "rituals" that allow your children to develop a stable sense of "home."
  • Stay open, communicative and available to your ex to discuss parenting issues.
  • Don't worry about or question the loyalty of your kids. Even if they appear to be grumpy around you, they will always have a strong bond with both parents.
  • Do whatever you can to make the transfer process from your home to your ex's home as smooth as possible.
  • Encourage time spent with grandparents from both sides.
  • Be consistent with discipline and other rules by discussing such issues with your ex.
  • Create a space for your kids in your home. Even if the space is simply a section of one room, this can help your kids feel a sense of place and security.

Stay conscientious when talking about divorce with your kids

Parents are often at a loss for words when it's time to tell their young ones that mommy and daddy are getting a divorce. It's important to remember, however, that divorce is commonplace in modern society and your children have probably talked with other kids about what it's like to live with a single mom or dad.

With this in mind, you may have an opening for the "divorce talk." Ask your kids about their friends who live with divorced parents, and try to keep the following in mind when breaking the news:

Parenting provisions regarding custody exchanges

Busy Florida parents barely have enough time to go grocery shopping, take their kids to school and get to work on time. Adding into your schedule the need to meet up with your ex-spouse for a child custody exchange can become the straw that breaks your schedule's back -- especially if your spouse is continually late or misses your appointments.

In order to ensure that you and your spouse are clear about child custody exchanges -- and to ensure that you have legal recourse in the event that the exchange guidelines are broken by your ex -- here are some important legal provisions to include in your child custody plan:

  • A detailed description of who or how transportation to the child custody exchange point will be provided.
  • A detailed description of who or how transportation from the child custody exchange point will be provided.
  • Describe exactly where drop-offs and pickups will occur and on what days. One way of handling this is to state that the exchange will happen at the residence of the parent who currently has the child, or at the school on days when the exchange occurs after school. Alternatively, state that the parents shall discuss with one another to agree upon the exact place of the exchange ahead of time.
  • State whether the parent responsible for transportation can use a third party or not. In some cases, this could provide convenience. In other cases, it could also result in an unknown or untrusted party providing transportation, so parents may want to clarify exactly which third parties will have the ability to provide transportation like this.

2 factors to think about in your shared custody plan

Shared physical child custody arrangements can be an excellent situation for the parents and the children alike. For one, the arrangements will benefit the children because they'll get to spend more time with both their mothers and their fathers on a weekly basis. Secondly, the parents will both be given a certain amount of break time to themselves when the children are with the other parent.

That said, you will want to consider a lot of different factors in order to ensure that your shared custody plan serves the best interests of your child. Here are two things to think about in this regard:

Will I be able to spend time with my children after the divorce?

Imagine facing the threat that you'll never get to see or spend time with your children again. The thought seems unimaginable to most parents, but for some Florida mothers and fathers this threat is real. Regardless of how it happens -- be it because the parent was convicted of a crime, convicted of committing abuse, accused of child neglect or some other reason -- some parents never get to see their kids.

Fortunately, the cases in which a parent cannot see his or her child are rare. In most situations, Florida parents have the right to -- at the very least -- some form of child visitation. There are two primary kinds of child visitation in this regard: unsupervised child visitation and supervised child visitation.

Information about parental child abduction cases

The most common kind of kidnapping is done by one of the parents of the child. This parent may not agree with the child custody orders and decide to take matters into his or her own hands by taking the child and keeping him or her in violation of a court's ruling. When these instances happen, the law offers the means for the other parent to get his or her child returned.

The first course of action for a parent to take following a parental kidnapping is to notify the police. Local, state and federal authorities will swiftly move into action where necessary in these cases. Often, the authorities involved will be able to locate the child and get him or her returned. Sometimes, parents may employ a private investigator to assist in locating the child.

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