Children in the Middle of a Divorce



Before parents can be divorced the court will order them to attend a class in which these issues are discussed.

Shared Parental Responsibility is a court-ordered relationship in which BOTH parents retain full parental rights and responsibilities with respect to their child. Parents may decide that they want to oversee certain behaviors or aspects fi the child’s life including education, religion, healthcare sports and social media and friends. The goal of shared parental responsibility is to work together as equals (co-parent) their children.

Sole Parental Responsibility is when the responsibility for a minor child is given to one parent by the court, with or without rights of time-sharing for the other parent. In the state of Florida, the courts will award sole parental responsibility for a minor only if we find that shared parental responsibility would be volatile to the child.

Notice: In Florida, we don’t use terms like custody, visitation, and primary residential parent.


There are three Florida Supreme Court Approved Parenting Plans.

  • Standard plan/ form

  • Supervised/ Safety -focused parenting plan

  • Relocation/ long distance parenting plan

Time sharing schedule: Tips for Parents

If parents can not agree on a time-sharing schedule, then the judge will impose a “standard” schedule. Parents must be specific for time sharing instead of “flexible”. A specific time-sharing schedule will help dissolve future disagreement and serve as a bases of a back up plan. Equal time sharing can mean a week on/ week off. 2-2-3 plan, 2-2-5-5 plan or other combinations. (2 days, switch, 2 days, switch, 3 days) or (2 days, switch, 2 days, switch, 5 days, switch 5 days)

Time sharing for different ages don’t always work because the needs of a 7 year old differs for a young 15 year old.

Child’s relationship with his/her parents, after a separation and divorce

1. Positive Relationship with both parents

2. Affinity for one parent – the child wants contact with both parent but temperament, gender, age, shared interest, parenting practices created a stronger bond to one parent than the other

3. Allied Child – The child’s allegiance to one parent could have started before the separation/ divorce. The child believes that they have a moral obligation to choose one parent over the other parent. Choosing which parent needs or deserves the child’s allegiance, support, and protection.

4. Estranged from one parent is typically due to a parent’s history with violence, abuse, or neglect. The parenting style can be viewed as angry, rigid, or substance abuse issues with smoking products, alcohol, beer, and prescription drugs.

5. Isolation from one parent is the lock of a child -parent relationship. The child has very limited or no contact with the parent.


Parental Isolation Syndrome is when a child is obsessed with deprecating the parent, criticism of a parent, denigration which is unjustified or exaggerated. The child has a clear attitude and behavioral problem with one parent who could be retaliating in a similar manner.


4 Specific criteria of Parental Isolation Syndrome Cases


1. Actively blocking access or contact between the child and the alienated parent. The “gate keeper” could be the other parent, relative, teacher, peer, or community member. The isolated parent’s behavior could have caused the child or others to believe the child’s lifestyle is in jeopardy while visiting. Allegations of child abuse, and sexual abuse will be prevalent when the child is isolating the parent. The child’s visit with the parent is unsettling and cause a mental or physical behavioral disturbances. The child will need time to adjust their behavior to the parenting style or attitude. Visitation has a negative attribute, regarded as a “chore” or errand instead of valuable time sharing together. The child would rather deviate from the schedule or if there were another issue with visitation, the child would want to cancel the visit entirely. The cancelation of a visit will negatively impact the child without further time sharing plans to reschedule.

2. False allegations of abuse against the absent parent are a criterial of parental isolation syndrome. Unproved allegations of sexual or emotional abuse can cause a direct or indirect effect on the child’s mental or physical health. Children can start looking for other outlets to their aggression against their parent.

3. Slow deterioration of a positive child-parent relationship after separation / divorce. Children don’t naturally lose interest in or become distant from their nonresidential parent simply by virtue of the absence of that parent. The slow deterioration of the child parent relationship is usually attacked by isolation, negative comments, bad discipline procedures, physical beatings, mental disturbances, revoking activities for their life experiences, changing diets, forced work with little pay or no pay for the household income and taking care of other siblings/ children of the parent or new spouse. Children who seek to distance themselves from one parent have a reason that seems justified to them. Pressures from school, clubs, friends, family, church, or community leaders can have an impact on children that want to get away from one parent and/ or spouse.

4. The children have developed an intense fear reaction. Parents that have a household rule that their way is the only way to live with them create an intense fear reaction. The child sees no way out of their life situation besides clear avoidance, self-isolation, and an inability to express thoughts, feelings, or new knowledge. Parents can try to talk to their child, but the child will not be able to speak their honest opinion on how they’ve been feeling due to fear of aggression or deflection by the parent. The child can have a blatant disregard to events, places, items, or other people who remind them of the parent’s suppressive rule in the household. Parents can use a messaging of family disposition by forcing the child to choose good or bad traits of the other parent. The parent finds ways to rewire the child when they are with them and remove the lessons or good attributes of the other parents visit. The parent will lash out at the child for speaking or acting overtly happy when coming back to the household of the other parent. The parent will even speak out negatively of the other parent in front of the child and their friends which will cause problems in school or embarrassment.


The process of unraveling the very controversial issues of time sharing scheduling for minors is essential work for family mediators, school, counselors, primary medical physicians, teachers, friends, and family members. The quality of a child’s life expands beyond the typical rational thinking. Immersing yourself in a child’s everyday interactions with parents can contribute to the wellbeing of the minor.


By association of good parenting tactics, we can alleviate the traumatic stress parental isolation syndrome can have on a child’s maturity. Although causes of parental isolation syndrome are usually seen in older children, we can see the effects of maturity throughout their education and life experiences. Children will mature at different rates due to their household contributions or work ethics. Many teens have to work for an allowance which is used to buy their own personal items. These items are precious to them and it’s apart of life to make taking away their personal items as a punishment. Yet, it’s better to take away an item that is used by the whole family which was not bought by the child.


Big efforts by the parent to constantly reach out and spend time with the child is necessary. The child has to find the experience with the parent mostly positive to have their attitude towards their parenting style change. Once the child has a positive time with the parent without retaliation from the other parent, we can start to see a change in the child’s behavior in school, clubs, and community events.


Let’s make an effort to divert bad behavior even in a stressful situation like separation or divorce.

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