As a parent, it is unsurprising that you would want custody for your child. This is especially true in situations where one parent least expects the divorce. In this case, so much anger, contempt, hurt, indifference and feelings of betrayal could be present that traumatic events are also likely to have taken place. Trust is no longer in tact together with any amount of respect, intimacy, or love. Where does all these leave the child?
Most often than not, the child is torn between two parents who are battling for custody. While both may have the child’s best interest, fighting for custody can actually cause more harm than good.
Research in the field of social science reveals that divorce can affect children negatively, which seems obvious, but it has been concluded that how children adjust after a divorce and succeed later on in life can be predicted by how well parents handle the conflict at this stage. The higher the level of conflict is between the parents, the higher the likelihood of children getting hurt.
The highest factor known to affect children’s adjustment following a divorce is the the parent’s level of conflict. The next is in regards to the agreed upon time sharing plan regarding where children will spend most of their time. Drawing out the litigation regarding time sharing can often create more conflict between parents, adversely affecting the child’s well being.
When parents are at war with each other, children are caught in between and it often creates confusion for them as their sense of security in family becomes threatened. Furthermore, fighting for custody lessens the personal communication between the two and the child and the children’s needs can easily get pushed in the background in the fight to win. At the end of the day, working things out with your partner to lessen the conflict will also help your children adjust more favorably after the divorce.
Divorce Law in Florida
Florida law recognizes both parents as the natural guardians of minor children and thus have equal rights to the custody of their children along with the care and control that needs to be given to them. The court has ordered what the relationship of parents should be and defined it as shared parental responsibility. It further states that each parent retains full parental rights as well as responsibilities with regards to the welfare of their children. As such, they are called to legally to work together so that they can reach mutual decisions that are best for their children. It doesn’t matter where the child sleeps, both parents are still responsible for their children when it comes to making big decisions for their future.
While this seems to be an ideal scenario, such a presumption that shared parental responsibility will work for all families can be disadvantageous. This is because not all family situations are conducive to this kind of arrangement.
There are cases where having one parent who will have sole responsibility over the children including making decisions can prove to be more beneficial for the minors. And in these cases, a judge can arrive at a specific finding that indeed parental sharing is more detrimental and then award only one parent the authority to make the decisions.
Often times, there are situations where parents are struggling with co-parenting and cannot simply arrive at an agreement? Typically, these are those parents who can make decisions but not together. At this juncture, the court can grant the ultimate authority to make specific decisions related to child-rearing to just one individual. For instance, if parents cannot agree on where the child will go to school and which pediatrician to see, the court might split the responsibility and allow one parent to decide about school, while the other parent decides on health concerns. Just like sole parental responsibility however, the court is aversive to such scenarios, so they can only be granted after a full hearing. This can be yet another tedious and difficult task where children can get dragged and hurt along the way.
Parenting Plan or Custody Agreement
Now that you know how fighting for custody can be both draining and painful for you and your child, your primary goal should be (however impossible it may seem), to reach an agreement and decide with your spouse about custody. You have to set aside your marriage conflicts and meet your partner halfway for the sake of your child. This would mean that you do not have to let the judge decide for your own custody plan, but to go through mediation to create a plan that you both agree to outside of court. While judges in general do the best in their power to consider each unique family situation, they do not have access to the deeper needs of your family as much as you can. Relying on your creativity in crafting a parenting plan or custody agreement is still the most beneficial option for you and your child.
Understanding your options when it comes to making decisions regarding your children’s wellbeing is an important task that Seff & Capizzi Law Group takes seriously. At Seff & Capizzi Law Group, we regularly assist clients and provide valuable information for those that need assistance in understanding how to approach this particular situation in their own lives.
If you need assistance with child custody or mediation, please call us at (954) 920-9220. We have over 40 years of experience and offer a free consultation. Click here for more information about our family law practice and how Seff & Capizzi can help.