How Are Florida Parenting Plans Determined?

One of the most difficult issues when a relationship breaks down is deciding where a child or the children will live. In the process of working out a parenting plan, each parent will generally have less time with the children. This can be a difficult adjustment.

Developing a parenting plan and time-sharing (formerly known as child custody and visitation) agreement needs to account for the children's best interests. The court uses the "best interests of the child" standard when reviewing any agreements or deciding a case when the parties do not reach agreement. A Florida family law attorney can advise of all available rights to ensure a strong parent-child relationship continues.

Shared Parental Responsibility

The parties may agree on a parenting arrangement. If they cannot reach agreement, however, the court will step in to create a parenting plan and time-sharing schedule. The court gives each parent the same consideration when deciding parental responsibility and time-sharing.

The court will order sole parental responsibility only in rare situations. These are situations where shared parental responsibility would cause harm to the children.

Generally, parties agree to share decision making for their children when it comes to medical and dental needs as well as education and religion. If the parties cannot effectively communicate, the court may order that just one parent makes these decisions.

Parenting Plans

Parents must establish a plan for where children will reside and when each parent will get to see the children. Parenting plans establish the following:

  • Who cares for the child on a daily basis
  • A time-sharing schedule - when is a child with each parent and who provides transportation
  • What specific technology, such as video conferencing or e-mail can be used for parent-child communications

In some cases, parenting coordinators assist the parents in reaching a parenting plan. Parenting coordinators become involved if ordered by the court. The parties may also request the assistance of a parenting coordinator to assist in resolving arguments over parenting time.

Before entry of a final divorce, both parents also need to attend a parenting course. Some courts require that parents attend specially designed programs.

Separating from a spouse is a tough decision. Talking about where your children will live and putting together a parenting plan is difficult and requires painful conversations. A South Florida family law attorney can assist in constructing a workable plan while making sure your rights are protected,