Do I Need a Parenting Plan?
The divorce process in Florida can be complicated and frustrating, especially when there are minor children from the marriage, but it can be easier and less contentious with the help of a family lawyer who has experience with collaborative divorce. Many couples in Orlando who are just beginning the divorce process have friends and family members who have gone through a divorce, and as such they have some basic knowledge about issues that can arise involving child custody, parenting, and time-sharing. One question that parents who are planning to file for divorce is whether they need to have a parenting plan, and if so, how they go about developing a Parenting Plan.
Generally speaking, most parents in the state of Florida will need to have a Parenting Plan if they share parental responsibilities for the child. In order to understand how the Parenting Plan works and how it gets developed, it is important to gain a better understanding of Florida’s child custody law.
Florida Child Custody Law and Time-Sharing
Florida law (Fla. Stat. § 61.13) clarifies that the state’s public policy is for every minor child to have “frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing.” The statute further clarifies that there is a presumption that both parents will share parental responsibility for the child (or children) unless the court determines that “shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child.” A history of domestic violence, for example, can lead a court to determine that time-sharing is not in the best interests of the child.
Now, what does all of this have to do with a Parenting Plan? The Florida Supreme Court provides a handout that explains how a “Parenting Plan is required in all cases involving time-sharing with minor child(ren), even when time-sharing is not in dispute.” In other words, if parents share parental responsibilities for their children and have time-sharing, then they need to have a Parenting Plan. As we noted above with regard to the statute, most parents do share time since there is a presumption that it is in the child’s best interests unless there is a clear reason for the court to decide otherwise.
What Goes Into a Parenting Plan?
Both parents must develop and agree to the terms of the Parenting Plan, and then it must be approved by the court. A Parenting Plan can contain a lot of different information, but it needs to contain at least the following:
- Information about how the parents will share the daily tasks of raising their child or children;
- Information about what the time-sharing schedule arrangements will be, including specific information about the days and times that the child will spend with each parent;
- Designation of which parent will be responsible for, or how the parents will share responsibility for, the child’s healthcare and education;
- Which parent’s address will be used to determine the child’s school district and for school-related activities; and
- Methods, technologies, and other issues concerning how the parents each will communicate with the child or children.
Working together to develop a Parenting Plan with the help of a family lawyer can give the family more control over their situation and can help to produce a schedule that is best for the child.
Contact an Orlando Family Law Attorney
Parental responsibilities and time-sharing in Florida can get complicated, but a compassionate Orlando family law attorney can work with you to help develop a Parenting Plan that meets the needs of your current family situation. Contact Goodblatt-Leo to learn more about how we help families in Orlando with a wide variety of issues related to divorce, child custody, and parenting.