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In Florida, as in most states, the court's keep the focus on the needs and best interests of the minor child(ren).
During mediation with Eric, all topics will be discussed concerning a wide variety of topics concerning the children.
As with all other issues discussed and resolved in mediation, each decision concerning the parenting plan will only be reached based upon agreement of both parents.
One of the most important issues that will be discussed and agreed upon during the mediation process will be how the parents will make decisions about their child's Health, Education and Religion. The most commonly chosen method for making decisions is called Shared Parental Responsibility. Basically, that means that both parents will speak to one another about such decisions, weight the pros and cons, and then reach a joint decision. There are some less common approaches to these decisions which involve one parent having the sole decision-making power. Eric will also help the parents discuss and agree upon how decisions will be made about extra-curricular activities and summer camp. All of these issues and decisions will be reflected in the customized parenting plan drafted personally by Eric.
During the mediation process, Eric will assist the parents to determine an appropriate and fair Time-Sharing schedule of time each parent will spend with the child(ren) each year. Every set of parents will come to their own unique decisions about how time will be shared with their child. For some parents, they will decide on a simple 50-50 split of time, which can be reflected as, for example, 7-7 (7 days for mom and 7 days for dad), or 2-3-2 (2 days for mom in week 1, 3 days for 2 in week 2, and 2 days for mom in week 1, and then the opposite in week 2). Other parents may decide on different percentages. There are many choices and options. In addition to regular days during the year, we will also discuss and decide how the parents want to allocate public and religious holidays and school breaks (winter, summer, and spring).
Issues and decisions concerning traveling with the child(ren), the right to claim the child(ren) as dependents on tax returns, childcare for the child(ren), and which parent will provide health insurance for the child(ren) and how insurance premiums and out-of-pocket health expenses will be paid by the parents. The best part of mediation is that all of these decisions, and others, will be jointly made by the parents. Neither parent can force the other parent to agree. Eric will assist the parents to reach conclusions about these issues while keeping the focus on the best interests of the children.
Not only are all typical, or common, parental issues discussed, negotiated, and resolved during a PeacefulSplit® divorce mediation, but any other issue important to the parents or relevant to their minor child(ren) will be discussed and incorporated into the couple's Parenting Plan. Eric personally drafts a Parenting Plan that is detailed, personalized, and customized to the unique needs of the child. Essentially, whatever issues or topics the parents want to include, will be included and incorporated into the Parenting Plan.
Florida values mothers and fathers equally. That is, there is no inherent preference to the rights of moms or dads. The court will always look to the best interests of the child when deciding issues affecting their life. "It is the public policy of this state that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents ... and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing. [T]here is no presumption for or against the father or mother of the child or for or against any specific time-sharing schedule when creating or modifying the parenting plan of the child." Section 61.13(2)(c)(1), F.S.
Section 61.13(d)(4), F.S., provides: "A determination of parental responsibility, a parenting plan, or a time-sharing schedule may not be modified without a showing of a substantial, material, and unanticipated change in circumstances and a determination that the modification is in the best interests of the child." Thus, either parent can always file for a future modification, subject to meeting the standard described above. This procedure leaves open the door for either parent to request a modification of the Parenting Plan should a material, substantial, and unanticipated future change occur.
Generally speaking, parents may not relocate more than 50-miles from the other parent's address as stated in the parenting plan or any revised version. If either parent requests such a relocation, it requires the permission of the other parent or the court. "The change of location must be at least 50 miles from that residence, and for at least 60 consecutive days not including a temporary absence from the principal residence for purposes of vacation, education, or the provision of health care for the child.." Section 61.13001(2) & (3), F.S.
The biggest benefit to mediation your divorce, especially when minor children are involved, is the power, control and freedom to create a customized and personalized parenting plan that meet the needs of both parents and is in the best interests of the children. However, the court will review your parenting plan to ensure it actually is designed to be in the best interests of the children. As such, the court maintains the power and authority to modify your parenting plan in the uncommon event something seems contrary to the children's best interest.