Divorce may involve applying the same legal statutes to every family that goes through the courts, but the process is still a highly-individualized one. Either the divorcing spouses themselves or the judge overseeing their case will have to carefully consider the unique issues affecting the family when drawing conclusions about how matters should proceed.
When there are minor children involved and their parents intend to share custody, the needs of the children will often dominate the conversation about what should happen during and after a divorce. The younger the children are, the more demands they may place on their parents and caregivers.
The following considerations often influence the negotiation of time sharing and other parental rights when the children in a given family are quite young.
1. Developmentally-appropriate time-sharing
When children are older, they might spend half a week at one house and the remainder at the other home. Even grade school children can go full weeks with one parent or the other without the situation damaging the bond they have with the other parent.
However, when the children in the family are not yet old enough for school, very frequent custody exchanges or visitation may be necessary. Lengthy separation can potentially damage the bond the children have with their caregivers.
2. The cost of childcare
It often costs more than $8,000 a year to have an infant in full-time childcare, even in someone’s home. Older children result in slightly lower costs but are still quite expensive. Florida parents pay, on average, more than $6,000 per year for care for a 4-year-old child. Both parents will likely need to work, which means they will need to address childcare expenses.
3. How their needs will shift in the future
If Florida parents don’t think about what their children will need in three, five and 10 years while creating their parenting plans, they will very likely end up back in court looking for a modification when their children get older. Parents with young children have to address the family’s current needs and also put a realistic plan in place for future needs, such as a framework for sharing custody once the children start school.
Parents often become quite emotional when trying to negotiate parenting matters related to younger children. They may need help remaining calm or asserting themselves appropriately during negotiations or when faced with the need to litigate in family court. Working with an experienced legal professional when navigating child custody arrangement and/or parenting plan concerns can help to ensure that the interests of both children and parents alike are properly safeguarded during and after the divorce process.