In our previous article, I shared how our justice system is designed to strive for PEACE in a marriage and family. So, let’s take a look at each of the letters in the acronym separately over the next five articles. After all, knowledge is not power; applied knowledge is power.
If you remember, “P” stands for “Parenting.” Courts look at three main issues when addressing children and the parenting of children. Let’s look at these.
Parental responsibility is how both parents communicate to make decisions regarding the welfare of their children. In other words, what sort of involvement they have in the day-to-day functioning of their child(ren).
This means both parents are involved in decisions related to the child. Whether medical, education (school), extra-curricular, etc.; both parents are listed as emergency contacts and can independently confer with health providers, teachers, coaches, etc.
Shared-Parental Responsibility, with One Parent having Ultimate Decision Making Authority
This is similar to the above, but if there is a disagreement regarding medical (e.g., tonsils out), education (e.g., where kid goes to school) or extracurricular (e.g., joining the soccer team), then one parent gets to make the ultimate decision.
When there’s sole-parental responsibility, one parent has the right to make decisions regarding the child – without conferring with the other parent. This is extremely rare, as a parent requesting this must explain why shared-parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child. Generally, this is done when one parent is mentally incapacitated due to addiction or mental illness, or is in prison.
I know this sounds like a condo; however, you don’t have to worry about maintenance fees. This used to be referred to as “custody,” but years ago, the legislature changed the term to “timesharing.”
This includes where your child spends the night during the week, on weekends and during holidays.
There is no set recommended plan the Court gives to everyone, as each party and child is different.
Parties are required to complete a parenting plan, which outlines all aspects of their responsibilities to the child(ren). It includes the aforementioned parental responsibilities and timesharing, as well as:
Where exchanges occur
Who else may watch the children
What type of communication the parties have with the minor child.
How the parties communicate with each other, among other items.
Being a parent is never easy. It’s a life-long commitment. When couples decide they no longer wish to be together, it doesn’t remove those responsibilities. While this may complicate the parents’ lives, the court tries to minimize complications for the child(ren). So before you decide to separate, think this through clearly. After all, it doesn’t just affect your life; it affects the lives of the most innocent among us.
If you are going through a divorce, you need an experienced lawyer who can guide you through the process. Call Barnett Woolums at 727-525-0200 to schedule a free consultation.