Kathy Macchione Leggett, LMHC • (863) 207-4402  Kathy@mccmediation.com

Mediation & Counseling Consultants

Settle child support, visitation & finances without a courtroom battle.

Parent Plans & Time Sharing

Your Children Are Watching

Contrary to public perception, Divorce Attorneys practice in and are subject to a stressful, emotional environment. The longer and more bitter the battle, the bigger the fee. However, if you think that the fault lies solely with the attorneys you are missing the point. You, the client, make it all possible. Clients often urge their attorneys to savage their spouse. It is a way to make them "pay for what they have done." When that is your objective the price that you pay goes beyond dollars. It results in the loss of dignity, self-respect and post divorce impairment of your ability to enter into future relationships.

Most importantly be aware that your children are watching. As hostility increases they become the innocent victims of the war. "Mom, why are you so angry at dad? Don’t you know that I love him?" "Dad, why are you so angry at mom? Don’t you know that I love her?"

A hostile divorce process is the best predictor for a future of continued conflict
when co-parenting after the divorce.

Statistics show that parents who prepare a plan jointly are more likely to comply with it than if a plan is imposed upon them by a Judge who doesn’t know anything about the family.

Your children are emotionally affected by the conflict

Divorce affects the whole family and places considerable emotional strain on the children, who often experience fear and depression when learning that their parents are divorcing.  If the parents are involved in a lengthy and combative courtroom battle, these negative emotional experiences can escalate into ongoing emotional problems. This has a negative impact on the children.

Mediation helps couples set aside their differences, and focus on solutions that meet the interests and needs of all involved, both for the adults and the children.

The strength of mediation lies in the practical way it approaches the issues at hand. This is especially helpful for couples wishing to establish a positive co-parenting plan for the benefit and in the best interests of their children.

Florida law requires Parenting Plans for all divorcing couples with children starting October 1, 2008.  Florida law maintains a strong public policy to keep both parents in frequent and continuing contact with their children after divorce. In Florida law, parenting issues are divided into three categories: parental responsibility, time sharing and support.

The TIME SHARING section of your parenting plan spells out when the children will be with each parent. The 10th Judicial Circuit has "model schedules" set out for specific types of visitation.   Quite often, the model schedule issued by the court is not appropriate for your family.

Mediation and Counseling Consultants
will personally design your Parenting Plan to fit your family.

As for time sharing with your children, think about how these items should work for your family:

Transitions - Pick up and Drop Off - Which of you is driving? If you use school as the transition point, what happens when school is not in session?

Holidays and Special Occasions - Will these days be treated differently than the usual time sharing and have a separate schedule? Are school holidays that are not public holidays included in this part? How will both parents receive notice of special school events?

Transfer of Belongings - Will toys, clothes, backpacks and other property of the children transfer between homes (if so, how and when) or will both parents have these items? What happens if a needed item is not transferred?

Right of First Refusal - If the other parent cannot personally attend to the children in that parent's designated time sharing period (due to illness, travel, etc), does the other parent have the right of first refusal? How long a period must it be before the right of first refusal applies - overnight, four hours, 24 hours?

Notice of Whereabouts - When does information have to be provided to the other parent if the children will not be at the usual location? When and how will the other parent be notified? This could include leaving the county, being out-of-county overnight, leaving the state, etc.

Experience has shown that children benefit greatly when their parents negotiate a mutually agreeable settlement. When Mom and Dad are seen to be comfortable with the terms of their separation agreement, especially those concerning custody and visitation rights, children are better able to adjust to the divorce.

However difficult it may be to work on a parenting plan,
there is one undeniable truth:

You are the only people who know your children, their needs,
and the ability of each parent to meet those particular needs.

By working together to make a plan that fits both your lives, you avoid being stamped with the court's standardized solutions to visitation and co-parenting.