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Florida Parenting Plans

Florida divorce and child custody laws basically hinge on the best interest of the child. That is why there is need for a parenting plan to ensure that the child is protected in the event of a divorce.

A parenting plan is the written agreement between divorced parents which contains details of how both parents will continue to support and care for the child after the divorce. The plan, as a guideline for the estranged parents, should include where the child will reside, when the child will spend time with each parent, and the pattern that sharing of parental responsibilities and decision-making should follow, among other things.

The parental plan will be submitted to the court for approval. The aim of parenting plans is to avoid future conflicts which can undermine the child’s upbringing.

Under the current Florida law, the judge will consider the facts of the case with equal considerations accorded both father and mother of the child. Both parents have a responsibility to the child irrespective of who has custody rights.

There are different patterns for establishing parenting plans depending on whether parents agree and when they disagree:

  • Establishing Florida Parenting plan when both parents agree – When there is a consensus between the parents on the terms and it does not conflict with the state’s child custody law, the judge will ratify the agreement. Such divorce cases are resolved swiftly making it less expensive and less time-consuming.
  • When the parents disagree – a child custody attorney may become necessary in resolving the dispute. When both parents fail to reach a consensus, the court takes over and establishes a parenting plan that will be stricter than what the parents usually would have come up with on their own.

The court can also step in when it discerns that the parental plan is not the child’s best interest.

Considerations taken by the court when reviewing a parenting plan:

  • Location of both parents in relation to that of the child in question
  • The ability of each parent to maintain a healthy emotional relationship with the child.
  • Ability of each parent to determine and cater to the child’s specific needs.
  • Each parent’s emotional, mental and physical health.
  • Each parent’s ability to give the child a stable residence.
  • Any evidence of abuse, neglect or abandonment of the child.
  • The child’s educational and developmental needs
  • Other facts and circumstances that will affect the child’s welfare.

Under a Florida parenting plan, there are certain specific elements that must be included. They include –

  • A statement detailing how the parents will share the responsibilities concerning the child’s upbringing process.
  • Arrangements made for the time sharing – length of time and the routine each parent will follow in spending time with the child
  • Decision on which parent will have the main responsibility of making decisions concerning the child’s healthcare and school-related issues.

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Who will be responsible for decisions concerning other anticipated activities and residence in relation to the child’s school are also included in the plan.

With time there may be changes, the parenting plans can be adjusted accordingly. However, the judge’s decision is always based on the child’s best interest. Contact West Palm Beach Family Law AttorneySteven Winig, Esq. for more information.