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Plantation Family Law Blog

Do you understand the details of legal custody?

Legal custody is an important aspect of any divorce involving children. In short, this gives a parent the legal right to make a variety of long-term decisions about raising their children.

Many of these decisions are related to the following:

  • Education, such as choice of schools
  • Religious beliefs
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Health care

Visitation interference: Things you need to know

If you have visitation rights with your children, it's important to stick with the agreed-upon schedule whenever possible. Not only does this provide your children with stability, but it also insures that you get to spend time together.

While some people never run into trouble with visitation interference, this could come into play at any time. Here are some things you need to keep in mind:

  • You can talk it out with the other parent. If they're constantly changing the schedule or keeping your children from visiting with you, ask if there's a problem. This is the best way to clear the air and get back on track.
  • Don't stop making child support payments. If you have visitation rights and are also required to pay child support, you may assume that withholding this money is the best way to get your ex's attention. Doing this could backfire, thus leading to less time with your children in the future.
  • Keep an open line of communication. It's not always easy to communicate with an ex, but doing so can keep you on the same page with your co-parent. If face-to-face conversations are difficult, stay in touch via text or email. Also, stick to discussing topics that are relevant to your children.

How to explain joint custody to your children

When you're married, your children get used to the fact that they live in the same house as both their parents. However, after you decide to divorce, this will all change. Since this is such a big adjustment for children, you must explain the finer details of joint custody.

Here are three tips you can follow to ease the stress and help your children feel better about the future:

  • Stay united with your ex-spouse: Even though you're divorced, you should still communicate on the best way to approach questions and concerns from your children regarding joint custody. When you're on the same page, it's easier to provide your children with the comfort they need.
  • Don't put your children in the middle: It's so easy to talk poorly about your ex after divorce that you may do so without realizing your children are around. If you put your children in the middle of your problems, they may begin to resent you and/or their other parent.
  • Talk about stability: Even though things are sure to change, share with your children what you and your ex are doing to provide stability. For example, showing them the visitation schedule may help provide insight on what the future will bring.

Don't look down on the benefits of virtual visitation

There is no denying the fact that you want to spend as much time as possible with your children after divorce. This holds true both for the parent who has physical custody, as well as the one who has visitation rights.

Although there is no replacement for personal time, you should learn more about the benefits of virtual visitation. This is a great way to supplement face-to-face visits with your children.

A parenting agreement should include many key details

There are many steps you can take to prevent future child custody disputes, starting with the creation of a comprehensive parenting agreement. With this in place, both parents have a clear idea of what's expected of them and the steps they can take to provide their children with as much stability as possible.

While no two divorcing couples will create the exact same type of parenting agreement, there are five things you need to include:

  • The parent who will have physical custody (this is who the children will live with)
  • The parent who will have legal custody to make decisions regarding medical care, religion and education among other details (this is often shared between both parents)
  • A visitation schedule for the parent without physical custody
  • A schedule detailing where the children will spend vacations, holidays and other major events
  • A plan for contact with extended family members, such as grandparents, uncles and aunts

Child custody disputes: 3 considerations that help

A child custody battle is one of the most terrifying and emotional experiences that a parent will ever have to experience. The thought of losing your right to spend time with your child, even if it's losing just a few days with the child each week, is enough to cause some parents fits of anxiety and fear. Although each child custody dispute is different -- and every parent has his or her reasons to hold a firm position -- parents who are facing a child custody court case may want to consider the following:

Educate yourself on the law

2 unusual types of shared parenting arrangements

We all know about joint custody, 50-50 custody and sole custody when it comes to shared parenting arrangements. But there are certain less-than-common ways that co-parents organize their time with their kids. Some of these ways push against the limits of what general society considers "acceptable, normal behavior." At our law firm, however, we encourage parents to explore all of their options -- and get creative -- to find a parenting solution that works for them, even if others find it to be uncouth or strange.

To get your creative wheels moving in this direction, we'd like to showcase two shared co-parenting strategies that might not work for a lot of people but has worked exceedingly well for a very select few:

Supervised visitation can help parents prove fitness

Few parents relish the thought of having someone oversee their every interaction with their children, which is what happens when the parent exercises supervised custody of the child.

But celebrity parent Brad Pitt appears to be embracing the supervised visitation he recently enjoyed with four of his six children over the winter holidays. Media reports indicate that Pitt had four of the children -- Zahara (13), Shiloh (12) and twins Knox and Vivienne (10) with him on Christmas Eve and day. A court-ordered monitor accompanied the children to Pitt's home and slept overnight in a guest room.

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.

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