Do I Need a Parenting Plan?
Whether you are getting divorced and have minor children from your marriage or are separating from your child’s other parent—even if you are not married—it is important to understand how child custody issues work in Florida. First, the state of Florida does not use the terms “child custody” or “visitation” but instead handles child custody issues under the terms of parental responsibility and time-sharing. When it comes to parenting time, one of the most important documents is a Parenting Plan. In short, if you are splitting up with your minor child’s other parent, you will need to have a Parenting Plan.
What is a Parenting Plan, and Why Do I Need One?
Parenting Plans are required in all family law cases where parents will be engaged in time-sharing with minor children. A Parenting Plan is required whether or not the parents agree to time-sharing issues. In other words, if you and your spouse (or former partner) agree to all time-sharing issues, you will need to have a Parenting Plan. Oppositely, even if you and your spouse cannot agree to any time-sharing terms, you will still need to have a Parenting Plan. In contentious cases, and in those where parents cannot agree to terms, the court will establish a Parenting Plan.
Under Florida law (Fla. Stat. § 61.13), parents have two options for establishing a Parenting Plan:
- Parents can work together to create a Parenting Plan that is in the best interests of the child; or
- Court can establish a Parenting Plan.
In order for the Parenting Plan established by the parents to become a legal document, the time-sharing arrangements need to be in the best interests of the children. In addition, the court must approve it. If the court establishes the Parenting Plan, it can use parenting plan recommendations but is not required to do so. Parents need to work from a Parenting Plan because it outlines all of the time-sharing arrangements and the specific ways in which each parent will spend time with and provide caretaking functions for the child.
Elements That Must Go Into an Orlando Parenting Plan
If the parents establish a Parenting Plan together, all of the following elements must be included in order for the court to approve it under the statute:
- Description, in adequate detail, of “how the parents will share and be responsible for the daily tasks associated with the upbringing of the child”;
- Time-sharing schedule arrangements, including details about the time that the child will spend with each of the parents;
- Designation of which parent(s) will be responsible for the child’s health care, school-related matters, and other activities; and
- Description, in adequate detail, of the methods the parents will use for communicating with the child.
Contact an Orlando Family Law Attorney
Time-sharing issues in Florida can be complex, but a compassionate Orlando child custody and timesharing attorney can assist you with your case. Contact Anderson & Ferrin to learn more about the services we provide to families in the Orlando area.