Traditionally, when parents of minor children decided to divorce one parent retained primary physical residential responsibility for the children while the other had some rights of visitation.
To a child, especially a younger one, the breakup of his or her family can be a very frightening and traumatic experience. To a large degree, the attitude with which each parent approaches the issue of primary custody and visitation will have a major impact on the ability of the child to adjust to the major changes in his or her world. The best results are achieved when each parent is willing to treat the other with respect and acknowledge the importance of his or presence in the child’s life.
Indeed, social scientists and mental health professionals have come to recognize that in ordinary circumstances a child will be happier, healthier and better adjusted if both parents retain a meaningful role in his or her life. From this realization has emerged the concept of “shared parental responsibility”, a model of child custody and visitation in which, as the name suggests, each parent has a meaningful part in making the often challenging decisions and responsibilities of raising children. In such a relationship, each parent encourages and supports the other parent in accepting an active parenting role. They share the burden of responsibilities (laundry, transportation, doctor visits, teacher conferences, etc.) as well as the happy occasions (holidays, birthday parties, movies, sports outings, trips, etc.). Not surprisingly, a shared responsibility arrangement is often more challenging when the parents no longer live in the same geographical area.
The Florida courts also favor shared parental responsibility arrangements, particularly when they can be negotiated by the parents themselves. However, there are of course cases in which divorcing spouses are unable to agree on custody or visitation issues. Although sole parental responsibility is not favored under the law and is not granted unless the secondary residential parent is irresponsible, neglects or abuses the children, or there is some other reason supported by evidence that justifies sole parental responsibility. Similarly, restricted or supervised visitation is not favored, but may be necessary if the children will be placed in danger of abuse, neglect or other situations that require more protection for their physical, psychological or emotional well-being.
Of course, even in a collaborative divorce, the parties may not be able to reach agreement on all custody or visitation issues. Additionally, children of different ages need and benefit from different parenting arrangements. Parents should try to be flexible and to tailor their schedules as much as possible to reflect their children’s developmental needs and individual requirements. You can expect that, as your children get older, you and your former spouse will need to be flexible and will need to work hard at effective communication and fair compromises, both with your children and with the other parent. Unfortunately, these changing demands can cause disagreements even when the shared parenting arrangement has proven effective in the past.
At Orner Law, LLC, we are here to offer you the legal support and guidance you need. Our attorneys have over 35 years of collective legal experience and are committed to providing the personalized attention and dedicated counsel our clients deserve.
Whether you are a mother, a father or even a grandparent, you can benefit from our family law attorneys’ more than fifty years of collective experience. If you are facing a dispute or are trying to work out a visitation arrangement that works best for you and your spouse and – most important – your children – our lawyers can help.
With offices in Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale, Orner Law, LLC serves clients throughout South Florida.
Whatever matters you are dealing with in regard to visitation rights, child custody or any related situation, please contact a South Florida visitation rights lawyer today to make sure your rights are well protected.