Do I Need a Parenting Plan?

loving mother and daughterIn any divorce case where minor children are involved, Florida’s priority is always the children. In Florida, it is the right of all children to receive support from both parents, financial and other, until the age of 18. That being said, when parents are separating, the state requires a parenting plan when time-sharing of the children is involved. This parenting plan is an agreement from both parents that describes a system for how they will raise the child/children after they are
separated. There are different ways parents and lawyers can create parenting plans, and there are a few key elements that are found within the plan.

How to Create a Parenting Plan

There are a few different ways parents may obtain a parenting plan. The first method is the pre-approved, generic parenting plans drawn by the state. There are three generic plans that are usually used in the following three instances:

  • When parents live close to each other
  • When parents live far away or when one parent is relocating
  • When the safety of child is at risk or an issue (when supervised time-sharing may be necessary)

In these types of situations, the parents may be able to fill out and file the parenting plans created by the state. It is best to have an experienced family law attorney to assist in the filling out and filing of all parenting plan forms.

If the separation does not fall under the above generic parenting plans, a custom parenting plan may be appropriate for the parents. This custom parenting plan can be created by both parents filling out forms provided by the state of Florida here. Within these forms are agreements that are made regarding the children’s best interest in their day-to-day life. When filling out these forms, your attorney should remind you that in cases where children are involved, Florida will always rule in favor of the child’s best interest.

What’s in a Parenting Plan?

There are several things typically involved in the parenting plan including:

  • How parents will share the responsibilities of the children
  • An agreed upon schedule for time-sharing of the children
  • Which parent will make final/ultimate decisions on school, health, and activities. This parent has authority on forms regarding all three subjects.
  • How each parent will communicate with the children.

Once the parenting plan is created, agreed upon by both parents, and signed, the attorney usually will complete the process from there. The plan needs to be filed with the courts and the county. For some parenting plans, a judge may need to be seen, depending on the particular circumstances of the case.

Every Case is Different

As always, every separation case is different. The above is a rough outline of Florida’s general information regarding parenting plans and time-sharing of children. It is always wise to seek the advice of an experienced attorney to increase your chances of success and to make sure all laws are followed.