• Florida Divorce: Parenting Plans

    Since it is usually in the best interest of the child for both parents to be involved in their lives, Florida family courts favor shared parental responsibility when couples with children divorce. Consequently, when divorcing parents go through the divorce proceedings, they are charged with creating a parental plan that outlines the responsibilities of each parent, how they will share time with the child, how they will make decisions in the best interest of the child, and how they will manage communications with each other and the child.  More specifically, parental plans must be clear and explicit and include how the following details will be handled:


    • Parental rights and responsibilities
    • Communication between parents
    • Conflict resolution between parents
    • Child-care tasks and day-to-day decisions
    • Detailed time-sharing schedules
    • Child discipline
    • Decisions about medical and dental care
    • Decisions about religion
    • Decisions about education
    • Division of child costs and expenses
    • Schedules for holidays and vacations
    • Child transportation and exchanges
    • Communication of child with parent (when not spending time with that parent)
    • Managing changes to plan
    • Future needs of children and how they will be handled


    The Florida family courts provide a basic form to help parents create the parenting plan.  However, there are a few important differences depending on 1) ability of parents to communicate with each other, 2) distance between parents’ homes, and 3) recent history involving criminal activity, child abuse, domestic abuse, or substance abuse involving either parent.


    Basic Plan – The best scenario involves divorcing parents working together to determine the parental plan and agreeing on most or all of it.  If both parents communicate well and live within 50 miles of each other (and don’t have a history of child abuse, substance abuse, or domestic violence), the basic plan will suffice.


    Long-Distance Plan – If parents live more than 50 miles apart and the parents communicate well (and neither parent has a history of child abuse, substance abuse, or domestic violence) then they will create a long-distance plan.


    Highly Structured Plan – If parents have difficulty communicating but no history of child abuse, substance abuse, or domestic violence, they will follow the highly structured plan.  This type of plan is created with the help of a mediator and/or lawyer.


    Safety-focused Plan – If a parent or child is at risk for domestic violence, substance abuse, child abuse, or criminal activity, then they must follow a safety-focused plan.  This type of plan can limit the types of visit for the parent who poses a risk.  Moreover, depending on the degree of risk, the court may deny a parent from time-sharing.  This plan may also include other important safety elements such as restrictions on firearms, physical discipline, and other limitations.


    In cases where parents are unable to reach an agreement of the parenting plan, the courts have the power to create the parenting plan, regardless of the approval of either parent.


    If one of the parents petitions the courts for a modification of the parenting plan, the court may consider approval based on the following criteria:  1) a significant change in living situation of a parent, 2) a risk to child’s safety, or 3) if the child will receive a major benefit from the change.


    Lastly, if a parent doesn’t follow the parenting plan approved by the court, he or she may be held liable for violations.


    If you have questions about parenting plans, child custody, divorce, or mediation services, our experienced attorneys can help answer your questions.  Our compassionate attorneys provide private complementary consultations.  For more information, contact us at Troy Legal, (888) 879-7578.


    Troy Legal, P.A. was founded in 2009 and serves clients throughout South Florida. Troy Legal, P.A., specializes in Marital and Family Law, providing reputable legal services for prenuptial and co-habitation agreements, paternity cases, adoption matters, alimony and child support, time sharing and parenting plans, drafting of qualified domestic relations orders (qdros), mediation services, equitable distributions, collaborative law, post-judgement modification and enforcement, domestic violence cases, and dissolution of marriage or divorce.  Troy Legal, P.is dedicated to serving clients through compassionate and aggressive representation, while upholding the highest degree of ethical standards.

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