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Parenting Plans: What Are They and Why Would I Want One?

Under Florida Statute § 61.046 (14), a parenting plan is defined as a document which is created for the specific purpose of governing the relationship between parents regarding decisions that need to be made about minor children for couples who are divorcing. It includes a “time-sharing schedule” for each parent and the child.

What is a “Time-Sharing Schedule”?

A time sharing schedule is a detailed time table that specifies what time the child will spend with each parent. It must include not only days, but overnights. It will also include things such as which holidays the child will share with which parent.               

Other Issues That May Be Included in a Parenting Plan

There are other issues which may also be addressed, such as the following:

  • The child’s education;
  • Physical wellbeing;
  • Health care;
  • Social and emotional wellbeing.

What Sorts of Things are Considered in Creating a Parenting Plan?

In the state of Florida, “all circumstances between the parents” are taken into consideration. This can include the following:

  • The historic relationship between the parents;
  • Whether there has been any domestic violence in the home;
  • Other factors as appropriate.

Who Develops a Parenting Plan?

Optimally, the parents develop and agree to the parenting plan together, and the plan is approved by the courts. However, sometimes parents just can’t or don’t agree. In this situation, the court will step in and establish a parenting plan.

Are There Additional Issues that Must be Addressed?

Yes. To be approved by the court, a parenting plan has to have a detailed accounting of how the parents will divide and share the responsibilities for the daily tasks associated with bringing up the child. There must be a determination of who may make health care decisions for the child. Additionally, it must be determined if one or both parents are allowed to make decisions for school related matters, including but not limited to, the address the child will use for determining school boundaries. There also needs to be a detailed description as to the methods and technologies each parent will use to communicate with the child.

What is the Difference Between a Parenting Plan and a Parenting Plan Recommendation?

A parenting plan is a plan either agreed to by the parents and approved by the court, or a plan ordered by the court (in cases where the parties can’t agree). It is legal and binding and final. Modifications can only be made by a subsequent order of the court.

A parenting plan recommendation, however, is nonbinding. This nonbinding recommendation concerns one or more of the elements of a proposed parenting plan. The parenting plan recommendation is made by a mental health care practitioner or other professional appointed by the court to make such a recommendation.

What if I Just Want my Child to Myself?

The public policy of the state of Florida is that each child have continuing and frequent contact with both parents, even after a divorce. There are some limited exceptions, but generally speaking, the courts encourage contact with both parents.

What Should I Do If I’m Thinking Of Divorce And I Have Children?

If you are considering a divorce, contact Fort Lauderdale attorney Sandra Bonfiglio to schedule a consultation. You can discuss your options and consider what will work best for you and your family.

Resource:

leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0000-0099/0061/Sections/0061.046.html

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