Posts Tagged ‘parenting plan’

Your Florida Divorce – What To Expect

Divorce is a major life transition that affects every family member and brings about the restructuring of all significant life functions.  Many people going through divorce find this transition the most difficult change of their adult lives.  The impact of divorce is momentous because divorce affects us psychologically, socially, financially, logistically, physically, and legally.  This means that in addition to your legal divorce, you will experience readjustment and shifts in each of these other aspects of your life.

The courts only usher you through the legal aspect of your divorce.  When the other aspects of life remain unaddressed during divorce they can cloud reality and foster unrealistic expectations about what the courts can do.  To better understand what can and cannot happen in court remember that:

  • Court TV shows are for entertainment and do not portray the realities and complexities of the system, especially the complicated rules of evidence.
  • The family court system should not be used as a tool for revenge or punishment and this tactic can easily backfire.
  • Often those who want to provide you with support and protection become emotionally charged themselves and their misguided efforts serve to fuel the fire instead.
  • Sometimes in a divorce case, even if you win in the courtroom, you lose in the court of life.  The drain and anger of a high conflict divorce can be emotionally and financially devastating and make you unattractive to a healthier potential mate.
  • Every case is different.  Even cases that seem similar will play out differently.  So do not depend on legal advice from your friends and relatives.

Sometimes, partners reach a mutual decision to divorce.  And, sometimes one partner makes this decision unilaterally.  In Florida when one spouse says it’s over, it is.  There may be hoops to jump through but if someone wants out of a marriage (and tells the court that the marriage is irretrievably broken) the court will dissolve the marriage.  However, before a couple can be divorced parenting and financial decisions have to be made and paperwork must be prepared and filed with the court.

THREE OPTIONS. Sometimes a divorcing person thinks that the only way to get in front of a judge for a divorce is to hire an attorney.  But, hiring an attorney is just one option.  Additionally, you can choose to fill-in and file your paperwork on your own.  Or, you and your spouse can hire a mediator who can help you reach an agreement and prepare you for an uncontested divorce.

Option #1 – The Traditional/Attorney-driven Divorce. Hiring an attorney is your best option if you need legal protection from your spouse or if your spouse has already retained a lawyer.  If you are unaware of what the marital assets are or how much your spouse earns a divorce attorney can investigate all of these details.  Additionally, if you feel intimidated as the result of domestic violence or coercion, negotiating without a divorce lawyer is a bad idea.  You can find a lawyer through the Florida Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service –

Option #2 – DIY Divorce. If your situation is uncomplicated, you may want to fill in all of the forms you will need for your divorce and file them with the court on your own.  All of the forms are available on-line, for free, at the Florida Supreme Court’s website –  (Start by finding the petition that works for you (Form 12.901).  The instructions for Form 12.901 will outline which other forms you will need.  Additionally, your spouse will need an answer (Form 12.903).  Alternatively, you can buy form packets at your courthouse.  This packet will include all of the forms you need.  And, many local courthouses provide self-help assistance – this link will direct you to your local self-help center

Option#3 – Pro-se/Pre-suit Mediation. The third option involves the hiring of a mediator – before attorneys are retained or any documents are filed.  This option is often chosen by couples that want to save time/money and side-step the negative nature of an attorney-driven divorce but still believe that they need the assistance of a knowledgeable professional.  This is called Pro-se/Pre-suit Divorce Mediation.  (Pro-se means unrepresented (or without lawyers) and Pre-suit means before a law suit has been filed.)  Mediators that offer Pro-se/Pre-suit mediation are trained to guide divorcing couples towards agreement, an uncontested divorce, and a friendlier future.  At A Friendly Divorce ( we provide Pro-se/Pre-suit divorce mediation and document preparation services.  (Other mediators provide similar services.)

MEDIATION. In Florida approximately 95% of all divorcing couples use some form of mediation or negotiation in order to avoid going to trial.  If you and your spouse hire attorneys, after your attorneys have completed the discovery process, you will likely resolve your case in mediation with a mediator selected by your attorneys.  If you choose a DIY divorce and file your paperwork on your own the court will typically send you to a court-annexed mediation program where you can resolve any remaining issues.  And, finally, if you choose the option of Pro-Se/Pre-Suit Mediation you will engage in the mediation process with the mediator you select, focusing on the goal of creating a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) and Parenting Plan, if there are minor children).

Typically, the mediation process takes between two and ten hours, depending on the issues and the personalities involved.  Many divorces are mediated in a single session and sometimes the process is spread out over time.  The end result of the mediation process is the creation of a customized Mediated Marital Settlement Agreement.  This agreement will cover future parenting plans (if there are minor children) and how finances will be handled during and after the divorce.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW. Before you and your spouse decide which option is best for you and before you get to mediation there are some things you should know.  The following is our list of the 21 most important things to know before you move forward with your divorce. (more…)

7 Tips For Parenting From Afar

7 Tips For Parenting From Afar

Whether afar is across town or across the country these tips will help any parent who is not currently sleeping under the same roof as his or her children.

1.  Remember that your child is a digital native. On the other hand, depending on your age, you may be an immigrant to their digital world.  Use your child’s advanced knowledge of technology to keep you connected.  Set up web cams on your computer and your kids’ computers.  Use video mail, Skype, and YouTube to connect.  Use My-space, Facebook, and Twitter to stay in touch, as long as you can do so privately and safely.

2.  Watch TV together. Let your child know that you will be watching her favorite show and will be ready to talk about it.

3.  Keep up with schoolwork.  Give your child (and child’s teachers) pre-addressed, stamped manila envelopes so that it’s easy for them to send you updates, schoolwork, and other paperwork.  If you hear nothing be sure to initiate communications with teachers by telephone and email.

4.  Make audio and video recordings for your kids and encourage them to make them for you.  Nothing to say? Record yourself reading a book and mail the book and the recording to your child.

5.  Remember small events. Send cards, pictures and letters for Halloween, Valentine’s Day, The 4th of July, etc.  Remember large events, like birthdays and Christmas.  Find rituals (beyond the standard Christmas, etc) that you and your children can look forward to and celebrate each year.   If possible build these rituals around an event (for instance a sporting event or a trade show) that your Ex has no interest in.

6.  Make sure that your kids have cell phones with your number programmed in. Use text messages and photos to stay in touch throughout the day.

7.  If you have not done so already, call a truce with your Ex.  Note: Your Ex does not have to take the same action.  This is the place where you are going to set the good example.  Let your Ex know that from now on you are going to focus on finding solutions that work for him/her, your children, and yourself.  And, then make good on that promise, no matter what it takes.

Divorce Doesn’t Have to Destroy Your Kids – 50 Guidelines For Divorcing and Divorced Parents

Divorce doesn’t have to destroy your children.  This article discusses 50 tips that divorcing and divorced parents should follow to make the transition of divorce and the process of family rebuilding less damaging for their children.

Click here to go to and view Elinor Robin’s complete article

My Unique Mediation Practice – A Friendly Divorce – Think It’s Impossible? Think Again

Is it illogical for a family to spend its financial wealth on two attorneys whose focus is arguing over dividing whatever is left? Most thinking human being would never choose this path. But, sometimes, when people are emotionally vulnerable and feeling betrayed, rejected, and frightened, their senses leave them and they fall prey to the atrocities of adversarial divorce. A traditional/attorney-driven divorce is right for some families. But many other families would be better served by using a mediator to help them through the process of divorce.  This article discusses the mediation process we use in my unique divorce mediation practice A Friendly Divorce®.

Click here to go to and view Elinor Robin’s complete article

Kids & Divorce – What to Consider When Deciding Your Family’s Time – Sharing & Parenting Plan

In Florida we no longer use terms like “custody,” “visitation,” and “primary residential parent” which suggest that a child is a possession to be argued over. These terms mislead parents into thinking that ultimately one of them can win and the other can lose their children. Divorcing parents should avoid the win/lose illusion and instead focus on how they will share time with their children and what each parent will be responsible for. This article discusses ten things parents should consider before deciding on their time-sharing and parenting plans.

Click here to go to and view Elinor Robin’s complete article

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