Custody Agreements Involving Multiple Children
Interviewer: Are the cases any different when there are several children involved? Could it be that one child stays longer with one parent?
Mark Kezy: In Orlando, generally, whether it’s one child or two children or three or more, there are not different parenting arrangements for the children. Generally, they treat the children as a unit. You rarely see one kid going to see mom.. Usually, the kids will go together. Mom has parenting time with both or all children at this time and Dad will have parenting time with both or all children at another time.
Changes to the Custody Agreement
Interviewer: After several years have passed, could there be alterations made to the arrangement?
Mark Kezy: Absolutely. What I always try to tell people is this. Custody and visitation is always modifiable. The arrangements that you put together when your children are, say, two and three years old are probably going to be outdated by the time the kids are five or six years old. Their needs and their schedules will change and so will yours. Visitation and sometimes parenting arrangements can change and do change frequently.
Interviewer: Are there situations where parents have a dispute over one parent saying, “Hey, I’m spending too much time with this kid. You need to take them over.” Are there disputes like that?
Mark Kezy: As crazy as it sounds, yes, there are. This goes back to the question about schedules and needs changing. I always tell people that the babies are easy. When you have a baby and it cries, you change their diaper, you put something in their mouth, and you put them to sleep. As the kids get older, it gets much more difficult. You have homework. You have school. You’ve got all the activities. It’s very different than when I went to school. These kids start their homework at a very young age, and the amount of homework that they get is much more than what we had.
Now it’s them coming home with the homework and doing their homework, and it’s you checking the work, then fixing the homework and then getting them off to their activities and feeding them. All the things that you have to do become much more demanding as the kids get older. It’s hard enough raising kids when you’re together. It’s hard enough trying to handle all those responsibilities when you’re together, but at least you’ve got somebody who’s helping with the kids and all those activities.
Being a single parent of older kids is very difficult because you have now the sole responsibility of trying to take care of all those activities. In some circumstances, you have parents who can help each other out because of the way that they have their schedules set up. The kids have a very generous amount of time with both parents. You have other families where one person doesn’t have very much time with the children, and maybe even doesn’t want much time with the children. In that case, the other parent might be saying, as the kids get older and there are more responsibilities, “I need help. I need this person to help me. I need to make sure that when they go to their parent’s house, they’re getting their homework done. I need them to help me get them to these activities.”
Sometimes parents step up and sometimes parents don’t. In a situation where one parent doesn’t take more time with their children than they’re granted, or when they don’t exercise all the visitation that they have, the other parent might ask me if I can force that person to exercise the visitation. I can’t. I can’t make either party do any more than they’re willing to do, unfortunately. Again, however, I see more and more situations where the parents have both been involved in caring for the children while they were together and are willing to help the other side.