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Helping kids understand custody

Family courts in Florida are guided by the principle that all children should benefit from the presence of two parents in their lives. Kids need both parents to be involved in explaining how child custody arrangements following a divorce will affect everyone in the family

Many children are shocked by their parents' decision to divorce and are unable, initially, to imagine a world where their parents will be living apart. Experts say that it is essential for parents to emphasize the significance of their married relationship and to explain that the decision to divorce was not taken lightly.

Dissolution of marriage will utterly change the lives of everyone in the family, especially the lives of the children. Child custody arrangements focus on the best interests of the child and take into consideration the parents' circumstances. Parents need to immediately take on the question of custody and parenting arrangements in the event of an impending divorce so that when the separation occurs, the child knows and understands as well as possible what will be happening.

Some divorcing parents can settle on a custody agreement themselves but sometimes disagreements regarding the best interests of the child rise to a level that has to be resolved in family court. A court will consider issues such as the capacity of the two parents to communicate regarding scheduled visitations, as well as where the parents live, when the parents work, and the child's school calendar. Visitation agreements address how and when the child will move from home to home.

Child custody and parenting arrangements are not one-size-fits-all and will need to adapt to the best interests of the child as the child gets older. Young children have very different needs than teenagers and custody arrangements must take this into account. Modifications of custody and visitation agreements address the changing requirements of growing children.

Child custody arrangements are also important when parents are not married because a child benefits from having access to both parents.

Determinations of child custody can be challenging but if the child's best interests are paramount in the negotiations the child stands a good chance of maintaining a strong relationship with both parents.

Source: ksl.com, "Children and divorce: How to help kids understand," Andrew Johnson, Sep. 5, 2012

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Busciglio & Sheridan Law Group
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