When you file a family law case in a Tampa Bay court that involves children (such as divorce, paternity, or modification of a parenting plan), you will get a standing notice or order which prescribes how parents should treat one another and their children.
For the most part, parents that utilize common sense and common courtesy should have no problem sticking to these standing requirements. Below are excerpts of the requirements in Pinellas County:
1. CONTACT WITH BOTH PARENTS; SHARED PARENTING:
1.1. Contact with both parents is generally in the children’s best interests. Children are entitled to “frequent and continuing contact with both parents when the parents separate or divorce” as a matter of law.
1.2 The “primary residential parent” has an “affirmative obligation to encourage and nurture a relationship between the children and the alternate residential parent.” A parent who restricts access of the children to the other parent and who does not encourage a relationship between the children and the other parent, perhaps should not be designated the “primary residential parent, ” as this is not acting in the children’s best interests and is not following the law.
1.3. In nearly all cases, the court orders “shared parental responsibility” of the children, which means co-parenting. The parents must confer with each other and agree on parenting decisions. Both parents must participate in all parenting decisions and work out their time sharing schedules. If the parents cannot agree on any issue, then the court will decide.
2. PARENTING CLASS REQUIRED:
2.1. Both parents must attend and complete one of the approved courses pursuant to Florida Statute §61.21. This course is mandatory. Therefore, even if the parties have settled, they must both attend one of these courses. The parties should not enroll in the same class unless both agree to do so.
2.2. Both parents must attend an approved class within sixty (60) days after this action is filed. If a certificate of completion for both parents is not in the Court file, the Court cannot sign a Final Judgment.
2.3. Both parents must attend an in-person classroom instruction in an approved course. Those unable to attend in-person instruction, and who wish to participate in distance learning or an on-line class, must first receive Court approval. Court approval will be based on the moving party demonstrating that “special circumstances” exist.
3. NO RESIDENTIAL RELOCATION OF CHILDREN:
Neither party should remove, cause to be removed, nor permit the removal of any minor children from their current county of residence for residential purposes without the written agreement of both parties or an order of this court.
4. TREATMENT OF CHILDREN:
The safety, financial security, and well-being of the children involved in this case are the court’s primary concern. Parents should follow these guidelines:
4.1. It is the law, except in certain rare circumstance, that both parents will share parental responsibility for all minor children involved in this case. The law requires parents to share the children’s time and to participate together in making all-important decisions concerning the children unless a court order or injunction indicates otherwise. Parents shall put aside their feelings and cooperate on all decisions involving the children. The following guidelines apply:
a). Children have a right to a loving, open, and continuing relationship with both parents. They have the right to express love, affection and respect for one parent in the presence of the other parent.
b). Neither parent shall alienate a child’s affection for the other parent.
c). Parents must separate any bad feelings for one another from their duties as parents. Their duty is to share the children’s time and share in making parenting decisions. Children must be free to draw their own conclusions about each parents, without the prejudicial influences of the other parent.
d). Children have the right to never hear a parent, or a relative or a friend of a parent, degrade the other parent.
e). Children have the right to be free of guilt because their parents have decided to separate.
f). Parents should never be so preoccupied with their own problems that they fail to meet the children’s needs. Separation of the parents usually has a worse impact on the children than on the parents, a fact both parents should never forget.
g). Each parent should openly, honestly, respectfully and regularly communicate with the other parent to avoid misunderstandings. They should never argue in front of the children.
h). Parents should discuss all issues out of the presence of the child(ren). Both parents should always try to present a united front in handling any problems with the children.
i). Children have the right to regular and continuing contact with both parents. Parents should arrange all visitation and exchanges together and not through the child. The child should never be the messenger between the parents.
j). Visitation plans should be kept and never cancelled unless absolutely necessary. If plans change, children should be given an explanation, preferably in advance and by the parent causing the cancellation.
4.2. Common courtesies (politeness, promptness, readiness, calling to notify if one is going to be late) must be observed when picking up and dropping off children. These times can be very stressful on children, so it is imperative that parents always behave as responsible adults.
a). Between visits, children should be encouraged to contact the absent parent by letter and phone, frequently and continuously.
b). Parent/child access and child support are separate and distinct under the law. Accordingly, a child’s right to access to his or her parent is not contingent upon the payment of child support.
c). A child should never be the delivery person for support payments or other communication between the parents.
d). Both parents are entitled to participate in and attend all special activities in which their children are engaged, such as religious activities, school programs, sports events and other extra curricular activities and programs.
e). Parents should share information concerning children’s activities, school information and health.
If you are involved in a Pinellas County child custody case and you wish to speak with a Tampa Bay child custody attorney, schedule a consultation with The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., by calling us at (813) 443-0615 or filling out our contact form.