Every divorcing couple that has children in Florida must create a parenting plan as part of their divorce “package.” The parenting plan is formally known as a visitation schedule or custody arrangement.
Florida has a strong public policy in favor of allowing the child to have contact with both parents after they separate or dissolve their marriage. Parents are strongly encouraged to share in the rights, responsibilities, and joys of childrearing.
Sharing Parental Responsibilities
The default for every divorce that involves children is that the parents will share the parental responsibility of the child. This means that the both parents will share in the decision-making processes that affect the child, such as those decisions that deal with education, health, religion, and other significant aspects of life. It also means that the child will spend time living with both parents, if possible.
The ultimate goal is to keep both parents involved in the child’s life. However, this default will not apply in situations where shared responsibility is not in the child’s best interests or may even be detrimental to the child’s health, safety, or well-being.
Requirements of a Parenting Plan
The parenting plan is very flexible. You can be as detailed as you would like to outline the roles and responsibilities of each parent. However, you must include the following minimum information.
- Time-sharing schedules that indicate how much time the child will spend with each parent on a regular basis
- How the parents will be responsible for daily tasks that affect the child, including even basic obligations regarding the child’s upbringing such as meals and clothing
- A specific designation of who will be responsible for major parts of the child’s life, including health care, school-related activities, and other extracurricular matters
- A description of technologies that the parents will use to communicate with one another and with the children
When the parents plan on living more than 50 miles apart, special considerations need to be made for the distance between the parents.
Developing a Parenting Plan
When parents agree on their parenting plan, the Court will usually accept it with either no changes or minimal changes. Generally, as long as the plan is reasonable, the Court will approve it if the parties agree.
If the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, then both parents can submit a parenting plan to the Court. The Court can then either accept one plan in its entirety or craft a plan.
It usually works out best for both parties if they can create a parenting plan that will work for them instead of allowing the Court to create one, however. The Court does not know the ins and outs of your daily life and how those things will affect the parenting plan. If you want something that works for everyone, working together with the other parent is the best way to create a plan.
Keep in mind that you should always have your child’s best interests at heart when creating the plan. Encouraging relationships with both parents should be a strong theme in your parenting plan as well. Minimizing the child’s losses, including pets, schools, activities, and other significant parts of the child’s life can help your child adjust better to their new situation.
Blair H. Chan, III, PLC can help you work with the other parent to create a parenting plan that will work for the whole family. Call 813-280-5301 to discuss your options regarding parenting plans in Florida.