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Clearwater Divorce Lawyer (Based on 36 Reviews)
727-683-1472 801 West Bay Drive, Suite 713
Largo, FL 33770
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Changing Co-Parenting Models for a Changing World


Florida family laws have changed a lot over the years. In the early 1900s, women had almost no legal or financial rights. So, fathers always won full custody of their children. Then, the pendulum swung the other way. Around World War II, the tender years doctrine took root. This philosophy held that children should be with their mothers, unless the mother was completely unfit.

Joint custody became the norm in the 1970s. The children “lived” with the custodial parent, who was usually the mother, and “visited” the noncustodial parent. Now, Florida, like most other jurisdictions, has a co-parenting law. Family courts expect both parents to play an active role in the child development process.

Family law attorneys have changed with the times as well, at least to an extent. During both court hearings and settlement negotiations, attorneys must be more mindful of the new laws and changing options. But the approach is much the same as it was 100 years ago. Hard work and strong commitment usually produce positive results.

Co-Parenting Rules

Florida family law is somewhat unchanged. Some of the old factors, such as the child’s preference, are still relevant. But the Legislature recently overhauled the law by adding a number of new factors. Some of the most prominent ones include:

  • Capacity of the Parent to Co-Parent: The first factor is one of the biggest ones, and it trips up many Florida parents. Essentially, co-parenting is about cooperation and working out problems. So, if a parent hires an over-aggressive “bulldog” lawyer, the strategy often backfires. Many judges assume that the parent’s intransigence will get worse once court supervision ends, and therefore this parent would not be a good co-parent.
  • Division of Parental Responsibilities: Most parents work, which means most children will spend at least some time in daycare. If the parent is too busy to spend time with the children and will probably use a nanny or au pair, that might be a problem.
  • Parental Track Record: Leopards usually do not change their spots, and parents usually do not change their parenting habits. Parents who never had time for school plays and other activities typically do not make good residential parents. However, these parents are usually good non-residential co-parents.
  • Parenting Skills: No one likes to tell their children to do their homework, brush their teeth, and go to bed. But such limits are necessary and, whether they admit it or not, comforting to children. In other words, the “fun” mom or dad is usually not a good residential parent.

As mentioned, attorneys must be mindful of these factors in court hearings and during settlement negotiations. Most parenting time disputes settle out of court.

Unconventional Timesgaring Models

The traditional every other weekend/every other holiday arrangement often works well. It’s predictable and it’s what most parents plan for. But the resulting parenting time division is rather uneven.

Alternatives are available, such as block scheduling. The children spend a week or two with Parent A, a week or two with Parent B, and the cycle repeats. Aside from a few adjustments for major holidays and other events, this schedule remains in place twelve months a year.

Block scheduling results in a roughly 50-50 division. That’s usually good for co-parenting. But it doesn’t work in all cases. For example, block scheduling only works if the parents at least live in the same school district, and probably in the same area of town.

Other unconventional models include the empty nest model. The parents move back and forth between homes instead of the children. Extended weekend visitation often works as well.

Connect with a Dedicated Lawyer

Co-parenting laws demand co-parenting solutions. For a consultation with an experienced Clearwater child custody lawyer, contact Cairns Law, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.



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