Our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators at Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc. routinely mediate cases where one or both parties have filed a Florida Supplemental Petition to Modify a Parenting Plan. The issues that can arise in these types of mediations include that the parties got divorced while their children were very young – such as under the age of 5 or 6 and a parenting plan’s time sharing schedule needs to be change due the advanced ages of the children; the former spouses no longer agree on parenting issues; one or both former spouses refuse to follow the court ordered parenting plan; one of the former spouses has committed a crime or such a nature that the children may be in danger while in his or her custody; or substance abuse issues have arisen.
The first thing that the parties to a modification proceeding must recognize is that a parenting plan that was ordered by a Florida Family Law Judge is not easy to modify since it requires that the former spouse seeking modification must establish that there has been a substantial material and unanticipated change in circumstances since the entry of the parenting plan with respect to the parties’ minor children; and additionally that the best interest of the minor children justify the modification.
Our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators have found that other than where the parenting plan needs to be modified solely due to the ages of the children, these types of mediations involve two parties who are completely opposite in their opinions about modifying a parenting plan.
Where the advanced age of the child is the main basis for modification, the issues typically revolve around how extracurricular activities or a teenager with a part-time job impacts a parents’ time-sharing schedule. At Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc., we work with both parties to help them understand the needs and desires of the children in fashioning a modified parenting plan. Our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators understand that Florida Statute § 61.13 main focus of the Family Law court is to make the best interest of the children as the primary consideration in deciding the issue of whether to modify the terms of a Parenting Plan. This means that every Florida Parenting Plan should be specifically created in order to meet the needs of each individual child who is the subject of the plan.
The toughest issues to deal with at mediation are where the former spouses no longer agree on parenting issues and/or when one or both former spouses refuse to follow the court ordered parenting plan. In these two scenarios, the parties’ relationship is usually quite strained and may not recognize that Florida Statute § 61.13 sets forth twenty different factors which a Florida Family Law court is required to consider in determining the best interest of the child in not only a initial custody proceeding but also when the court decides whether or not to modify a parenting plan that is in place. So, one method of mediating these issues is to have each party explain why each factor is in his or her favor.
Our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators at Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc. have found that once the parties understand the legal factors, the mediation may be more likely to result in a Mediated Settlement Agreement.