How Parenting Plans Can Protect Your Child’s Best Interests
In Florida, family law courts will not grant a divorce to a couple with children until a parenting plan has been put in place. These plans, which include arrangements for parenting time and decision making, are intended to encourage frequent and continuing contact between parents and their children, especially after the divorce is finalized. Couples are permitted to come up with their own plan by negotiating an out-of-court agreement, although before it will become a court order, a judge must approve it. However, this is not always possible, in which case, judges are forced to step in and implement a parenting plan that addresses custody and child support-related issues.
Although judges are directed to create parenting plans that serve the best interests of the child, they aren’t always aware of the intricacies of each family’s unique circumstances. This can make it difficult to implement a custody arrangement that suits all the parties needs, so if you are considering divorce and have children, you should consider retaining an experienced Florida shared parental responsibility attorney who can help you work with your spouse to create a parenting plan that will give your child the best possible chance of transitioning to post-divorce life.
What Information is Included in a Parenting Plan?
All parenting plans must generally contain a time sharing schedule and an explanation of how parental responsibilities will be divided. At a minimum, parenting plans must:
- Describe in detail how the parents will share responsibility for the daily tasks required of raising a child;
- Include a time-sharing schedule that specifies when each parent will have access to the child;
- Designate who will be responsible for making healthcare-related decisions on the child’s behalf, as well as matters related to schooling; and
- Describe the methods that the parents will use to contact the child.
However, these are just the minimum requirements for parenting plans, so couples are permitted to include other information, including how disputes regarding child custody or decision making will be resolved. Essentially, parenting plans give a child’s parents the ability to tailor a custody schedule to the unique needs of their children. These needs will undoubtedly change as the child ages. Fortunately, when this happens, parents can modify the agreement to reflect those changes.
Standard Parenting Time Plans
When couples are unable to come to an agreement regarding custody and visitation, a judge will create a plan based on the best interests of the child. Beginning this year, courts have begun using a standard parenting time plan that allows the noncustodial parent access to the child:
- On the second and fourth weekends of the month;
- One evening per week;
- Thanksgiving break in even numbered years;
- The first half of winter break in odd numbered years and the second half of winter break in even numbered years;
- Spring break in even numbered years; and
- For two weeks every summer.
In the event that the parents’ schedules make the implementation of this agreement unfeasible, courts are willing to modify it, but only if doing so is in the child’s best interests.
Call Today for Help Drafting Your Own Parenting Plan
To begin drawing up your own parenting plan, please call dedicated Fort Lauderdale shared parental responsibility attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 for a free case evaluation.