SHARED PARENTING part 1
by Shawn Hungate.
Commonly referred to as custody, the concept of shared parenting comes up after a dissolution of marriage (divorce), or the establishment of paternity. Shared parenting does not necessarily mean rotating custody, but is the term used to describe the relationship that is established between the parents and the children after a divorce or establishment of paternity.
Parents must protect their children from undue hurt and turmoil. One of the most difficult things about a divorce is the effect it has on the children of the parties. Parents need to remember that in a divorce, they are ending their marriage to the Husband or Wife, not ending the relationship with their children. Parents will always remain Mother and Father to their children.
Divorce is a stressful and major crisis for both the adults and for the children. The stress can result in both physical and emotional problems. Different aged children can react differently to divorce. This may range from irritability to severe behavioral changes like drug use. Parents should look for signs of trouble and react to them early to help prevent potential serious problems in the future. It is best if the parents can work out the parenting issues to help avoid, or at least minimize, the harm the children may suffer. Sometimes avoiding a court fight and attempting an uncontested divorce can help in this. However, if parent are unable to do so, the Court will have to decide parenting issues for them.
The idea of Shared Parenting is to provide a framework for effect co-parenting. It is public policy in the State of Florida to promote the sharing of rights and responsibilities of raising their children. Shared Parental Responsibility is a court ordered in just about every case. It means that both parents retain full parental rights and full parental responsibilities over their children. It means that the parents shall discuss with each other all major decisions affecting the children and their welfare. It means that the decisions regarding the children shall be made jointly. Shared Parenting is ordered to protect the children’s right t an ongoing relationship with both parents.
Each parent has certain duties when it comes to raising their children after a divorce or establishment of paternity. When the children are with one parent, that parent shall make the day to day decisions regarding the children’s regular care, maintenance, and welfare. The parents should consult with one another when larger issues come up like religious upbringing, discipline, financial issues, morality issues, major recreational activities, and non-emergency medical care. In other words, while a parent doesn’t need to call the other parent to discuss what the children are going to have for dinner every night(unless there are medical issues), they should discuss and resolve where the children are going to summer camp, or whether they are going to enroll in the local soccer league. Each parent should take an active role in providing sound environment for their children and attempt to resolve any differences as amicably as possible. This also means that the parents should not only discuss these issues, but carry themselves in a way that promotes and fosters the best interest of the children. If the children see a parent arguing, yelling, or acting inappropriately, they are likely to copy that behavior.
Sometimes parents after a divorce do not realize what should be pretty obvious, and that is sharing information about the children. A parent should immediately notify the other parent about any serious illness or accident that affects the children. Likewise, both parents have the right to access records and information pertaining to the minor children, including, but not necessarily limited to, medical, dental, optical, and school records.
Ultimately, both parents have a duty to promote a good relationship between the children and the other parent. Under shared parenting, both must attempt to make sure that the children have free access and unhindered contact with the other parent. If one parent desires to relocate, than the other parent must be notified and their right to ongoing contact and access with the other parent must be considered.. In fact, if the parent the children spend the majority of time with (what used to be known as the “custodial parent”, the “parent with custody”, or the “parent with primary residential responsibility), than that parent has to follow the law established in Florida Statute 61.13001, “Parental Relocation with a Child”. The natural development of the children’s love and respect for the other parent must not be interfered with by the other parent.
I have handled many family law cases, including divorces, paternity cases, modifications, and enforcements since 1998. If you have any questions regarding your situation, please feel free to contact me at 407-846-1529. Shawn L. Hungate, Attorney at Law, 811 Patrick Street, Kissimmee, Florida, 34741.