The Importance of Parenting Plans
Many couples getting a divorce are told that separating their children/custody and money/financial settlements is a wise decision, necessitating two separate processes and/or mediators to work with them on these agreements. Especially for parents who have decided to split custody 50/50, this kind of arrangement can help ensure that children and custody issues are not used as leverage in financial discussions.
In the same way that creating two separate agreements for custody and finances helps ensure that those issues are kept separate, creating a parenting plan—even for couples who feel that they have their time-sharing plans already figured out and agreed upon—can help ensure that there is something official to fall back on in case there comes a time when there is disagreement. Parenting plans also help to set expectations about how parents can work together—and can serve as a reference point, even in making changes. In fact, some say that parenting plans are a good idea even for those couples who were never married, but still share children together.
Establishing Lasting Boundaries
Some have also reported that these plans can also help set boundaries during a time when emotions are running high and sometimes uncontrollably. They can also help stabilize relationships even after children have reached age of majority; even grandparent-grandchild relationships. And most would agree that, the more clarity and definition in the plan, the better.
Florida Parenting Plans
Many of these plans can begin with boilerplate language and then build off of that, based on everyone’s needs and the specific circumstances.
In Florida, these plans are required in all cases involving time-sharing with minor child(ren), even if there are no disputes over the schedule. At a minimum, the parenting plan must describe (in detail):
- How the parties will be responsible for daily tasks;
- Time-sharing schedule arrangements (specific time spent with each parent);
- The name of the parent who is going to be primarily responsible for important matters such as health care forms, school-related issues, etc.; and
- How the parents will be communicating with the child(ren).
As with all child custody issues in courts, the best interests of the child are of paramount importance in parenting plans, and that means that any and all details that could be relevant—including any history of domestic violence and/or convictions related to child abuse—are also taken into account in crafting these plans. Florida state law sets forth what factors are taken into account when determining the best interest of the child, such as the capacity of each parent to facilitate a close parent-child relationship, the division of parental responsibilities, the ability of each parent to put the child’s interests above theirs, and several others.
Fort Lauderdale Child Custody & Parenting Plan Attorney
At the law office of Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. in Fort Lauderdale, we are here to help guide you through the process, explaining your options and helping these arrangements go as smoothly as possible. If you need help with any family law issue–including time-sharing arrangements–contact us today so that we can get started helping you.