One of the biggest concerns of Florida couples considering divorce is their children and the custody and visitation arrangement that will go into effect once the divorce is final. If the parents themselves can come to a co-parenting agreement, this is the most preferable arrangement since it assures that the children will have continuing meaningful contact with both parents whom they love and trust. However, if parents cannot agree, a court will decide the custody arrangement for them.
As FindLaw.com explains, Florida courts are most concerned with the best interests of the children and have wide discretion when it comes to custody and decision-making awards to one parent or the other. In extreme situations, such as a history of child abuse or neglect, the court may decide that neither parent should have custody because it would be harmful to the child's physical or emotional welfare. In such a case, the court may grant guardianship custody to a grandparent, another family member or a close family friend.
The Florida Department of Children and Families reminds parents that divorce is especially difficult for children since they need and want both of their parents to love and support them while they are growing up. Thus a co-parenting arrangement is the best way for parents to provide a positive and healthy upbringing for their children despite the fact that the marriage has ended.
Co-parenting does not mean that the children must spend equal time with each parent. It does mean, however, that parents must learn to work together for the best interests of their children. Communication is the key. Divorced parents who establish and maintain good communication with each other will find it easier to reach a cooperative relationship where their children are not forced to take sides and can thrive in a conflict-free environment.