Sometimes divorcing parents have to resolve child custody matters through litigation in a divorce court, where the judge makes the final custody determination. If you are fortunate enough to have a somewhat cooperative relationship with your spouse, you might be able to negotiate your own child custody plan with them for the judge to approve and adopt. What do judges look for in a privately negotiated custody plan, and what are the kinds of things that make judges reject or modify these plans?
Child custody standard
When it comes to child custody, Florida judges will always keep the best interest of your children as the primary objective. This means that their decision to approve, modify or reject the custody plan that you present them will be based solely on what is best for your children.
Thus, when you negotiate a custody plan with your spouse, it has to be obvious to the judge that the parenting plan was designed with your child’s interests in mind, rather than simply based on what is most convenient for you and your spouse.
What your parenting plan needs
According to Florida law, there are a few things that a parenting plan must have. Your plan must include:
- A description of how you and your spouse will share responsibility for your child’s daily upbringing
- A schedule determining how much time the child will spend with each parent
- A determination of which of you will be responsible for health care decisions, school-related decisions and other important decisions for your child
- A description of the methods and technologies that you will both use to communicate with your child
If the judge decides that your proposed plan would be the best situation for the overall well-being of your child, they will incorporate it into the final divorce decree and enforce it. If not, they may send it back to you with revisions to make.
Litigating in court for custody of your children can be incredibly unpleasant for everyone involved, especially the children. If you have the opportunity to do so, negotiating a private custody agreement can be the best way to resolve the issue with as little conflict as possible.