If you are getting divorced in the State of Florida and you share children, you will need what is called a parenting plan. You will not be permitted to be officially divorced through the courts without this. A parenting plan is an agreement created by parents or the Florida court that outlines the custodial rights and responsibilities you will have upon your divorce. If you and your spouse can mutually agree on a plan, it will then need to be approved by the court. If the two of you cannot come to an agreement, the Florida Court will implement its own plan based on the best interests of the child(ren). See Florida Parenting Plan Forms.
As mentioned above, if you and your spouse reach an agreement, for it to be approved by the Florida Court your plan will need to outline custody, timesharing, education, extra-curricular activities, healthcare, scheduling, and other circumstances that may be relevant to your specific child(ren) and family. If you and your spouse’s proposed parenting plan is not approved by the Florida court (which usually does not occur), the court will then take the role in creating a parenting plan that you will be ordered to abide by. This plan will be whatever the Florida court finds to be in the best interests of the child(ren).
Whether the Florida court is implementing their own plan, or they are reviewing your proposed plan, the court will have specific factors to consider. See Florida Statute 61.13. Under Florida Statute 61.13, the court will consider (among others):
- Each parent’s ability to ascertain the specific needs of the child and take the appropriate actions to address those needs;
- The emotional, mental, and physical health of each of the parents;
- The educational and developmental needs of the child; and
- Each parent’s ability to provide a stable residence and home life for the child;
- Each parent’s ability to maintain a close emotional relationship with the child;
- The geographic location of each of the parents in relation to the child;
- Any evidence of abuse, neglect, or abandonment of the child;
- Any other facts or circumstances that impact the well-being of the child.
When implementing its own parenting plan or reviewing the parents proposed parenting plan, the Florida Court will ensure the necessary elements are included in your parenting plan, such as: See Florida Statute 61.13(2)(b)
- Describe in adequate detail how the parents will share and be responsible for the daily tasks associated with the upbringing of the child;
- Include the time-sharing schedule arrangements that specify the time that the minor child will spend with each parent;
- Designate who will be responsible for:
- Any and all forms of health care. If the court orders shared parental responsibility over health care decisions, either parent may consent to mental health treatment for the child unless stated otherwise in the parenting plan.
- School-related matters, including the address to be used for school-boundary determination and registration.
- Other activities; and
- Describe in adequate detail the methods and technologies that the parents will use to communicate with the child.
The courts understand that your parenting plan cannot and will not anticipate for every possible occurrence and event, however it will provide a road map for you and your spouse to hopefully make your timesharing and process of sharing responsibilities much easier, especially in the event of disagreements down the road. While the parents are encouraged to work together, once a parenting time plan is established, the Court is only able to enforce or change the plan. This is why it is important to understand your responsibilities outlined within the parenting plan prior to signing.
If you or someone you know is seeking advice on divorce or child custody matters, you can speak with one of our family law attorneys at the Yaffa Family Law Group at 561-276-3880 or visit our website at www.yaffafamilylawgroup.com to schedule your confidential complimentary consultation.