Florida law now requires that a Parenting Plan be entered in each family law case where children are involved. Prior to the new law taking effect, many judgments involving children lacked a specific visitation schedule.
Another important change in the new law is the replacing of words “custody” and “visitation” with the term “time sharing.” A time sharing schedule is one of the major components of a Parenting Plan.
Parental Responsibility is the first issue resolved in a Parenting Plan. Parental Responsibility does not have much to do with when a child spends time with either parent. It does have to do with whether both parents or a single parent make decisions regarding the child’s education, medical care, religious training, and disciplinary concerns.
Each Parenting Plan should include the following – at a minimum:
- Each parent’s contact information (addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses)
- The minimum schedule of allowed interaction between the child and the parent the child spends the least amount of time.
Typically, each Parenting Plan divides the child’s time into these major time periods:
- School year
- Christmas break
- Spring break
- Summer vacation
- Various holidays
Each of these time periods is normally defined based on the child’s actual school schedule or that of the local school district.
Also, most Parenting Plan address the following issues as well:
- Time table for notification of the child’s out-of-state or international travel
- The designation of a specific parent to make the decision for a particular part of the child’s life – such as school, religion, or medical treatment
- Methods of communication between the parents and between the child and a parent. The usually methods of communication are email, text message, phone, FaceTime, and Skype)
If you are unable to agree on the terms of a Parenting Plan, the judge will decide on the terms of your Parenting Plan after hearing evidence on the following factors:
- Each parent’s demonstrated capacity to encourage and facilitate a continuing and close parent-child relationship, to comply with the terms of the Parenting Plan, and to allow reasonable changes when requested.
- How parental responsibilities will be divided among the parents or third parties after the case is over
- How each parent will act in the best interests of the child rather than in their own best interests.
- How long the child has lived in a stable and satisfactory environment and whether maintaining that environment is desirable
- The geographic location of each parent including a consideration of the amount of travel time involved.
- Each parent’s moral fitness
- Each parent’s physical and mental health
- The child’s community, school and home record
- The child’s reasonable preference as long as the judge determines that the child has sufficient intelligence, experience, and understanding to state a preference
- Each parent’s disposition, capacity and demonstrated knowledge to know of the child’s favorite things, daily routine, medical care providers, teachers, and friends.
- Each parent’s disposition and capacity to provide the child a consistent routine for bedtime, meals, homework and discipline.
- Each parent’s demonstrated capacity to keep the other parent informed of the child’s issues and activities including each parent’s willingness to adopt a unified front when dealing with major issues.
- Evidence of child neglect, child abandonment, child abuse, sexual violence, or domestic violence whether or not a prior case or a pending case exists.
- Evidence that a parent has knowingly given false testimony to the court regarding a pending or prior case regarding child neglect, child abandonment, child abuse, sexual violence, or domestic violence.
- The specific tasks normally performed by a parent before the start of the case and during the case – as well as whether those tasks were performed by third parties.
- Each parent’s disposition and capacity to participate and be involved in extracurricular and school activities.
- Each parent’s disposition and capacity to maintain a substance free environment.
- Each parent’s disposition and capacity to shield the child from ongoing litigation by not talking about the case and not using disparaging comments about the other parent.
- Each parent’s disposition and capacity to meet the developmental needs of the child.
- Any other factor deemed relevant by the judge.
You should consult with an Orlando Parenting Plan Lawyer to advise you of your legal rights and, if necessary, show the Court that your proposed Parenting Plan is in the best interests of the child. Please feel free to call with any questions.