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In the divorce setting, the parent’s fundamental concern is where, and with whom, the children will reside. Often parents state that he or she “wants custody of their child”. However, now the term “custody” is no longer applicable. Instead the Courts require a written Parenting Plan which sets forth a time sharing schedule with the children and their parents. The guiding principle remains the children’s best interests, or in other words, how will the children’s best interests be served? The primary principle is not what the parents want or need, or who gets” custody” of the children.

The Florida legislature has defined a Parenting Plan as follows: it “means a document created to govern the relationship between the parents relating to decisions that must be made regarding the minor child and must contain a time-sharing schedule for the parents and child. The issues concerning the minor child may include, but are not limited to, the child’s education, health care, and physical, social, and emotional well-being. In creating the plan, all circumstances between the parents, including their historic relationship, domestic violence, and other factors must be taken into consideration.” See FL Statute 61.046 (14).

The Parenting Plan must be approved by the presiding Judge, even if the Plan is agreed upon by the parents. In order to determine the timesharing in some contested cases, it may be recommended that a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) be appointed by the Court to investigate what timesharing schedule is in the best interests of the children. The GAL will issue a report of his or her findings and recommendations to the parties and the Court. Most GAL are experienced family law practitioners who have served a guardians for the children in many cases and are very familiar with the problems associated with a divorce and how the divorce can impact the children.

An experienced family law attorney such as Ms. Perry, will help you transition from a two parent household to a one parent household. There are many other factors and issues, in addition to those addressed above, to consider concerning your children, the most important aspect of your divorce.