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Parenting Plan Lawyer

A parenting plan outlines exactly how divorcing parents will share the rights and responsibilities of raising their children. Parents who are in agreement can submit a joint parenting plan to the court, while those involved in litigation can each submit a proposed plan, with the help of an experienced family law attorney. The judge will review the proposals and create a final plan based on the evidence presented.

Parenting Plans Should Focus on the Best Interests of the Children

When creating a parenting plan, the primary concern should be the best interests of the child(ren) involved. This is determined by a thorough examination of the following factors:

  • The capacity of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship with the children.
  • Each parent’s capacity to put the needs of the children above their own and honor the time-sharing schedule.
  • The length of time the children have lived in a stable home environment and the desire to maintain continuity.
  • The moral fitness, physical and mental health of each parent.
  • The wishes of the children (if they possess sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference).
  • Each parent’s capacity to maintain consistent discipline, homework, meals, and bedtime schedules.
  • Each parent’s willingness to communicate and keep the other parent informed of issues related to the children.
  • A history of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, abandonment, or neglect on the part of either parent.
  • The parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and undertaken by third parties.
  • Each parent’s ability to participate in the children’s school and extracurricular activities.
  • Each parent’s ability to maintain an environment for the children that is free of substance abuse.

The capacity of each parent to protect the children from any ongoing litigation and to refrain from making disparaging comments about the other parent to the children will also be seriously considered.

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Types of Florida Parenting Plans

There are four different types of approved parenting plans that can be created in Florida, based on the needs of the children and the circumstances of the family:

  • Basic plan – the parents agree on shared responsibility and time-sharing, are able to communicate, have no history of domestic violence, child abuse, or substance abuse, and do not plan to live more than 50 miles apart.
  • Long distance plan – the parents agree on shared responsibility and time-sharing, are able to communicate, have no history of domestic violence, child abuse, or substance abuse, but plan to live more than 50 miles away from one another.
  • Highly structured plan – the parents don’t agree on shared responsibility and time-sharing, need help communicating with each other in a civil manner, and have no history of domestic violence, child abuse, or substance abuse.
  • Safety-focused plan – the children or parents are at risk for domestic violence, child or substance abuse, or criminal activity.

In 2018, the standard parenting time plan, intended to streamline parenting plans for unmarried parents, went into effect in Florida. This plan is sent directly to both parents when the Child Support Program is attempting to establish paternity or establishing or modifying a support order, and typically determines where the child will live and how parental responsibility will be shared.

What Needs to Be Included in a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan should, at a minimum, describe the following in detail:

  • How the parties will share and perform the daily tasks associated with the upbringing of the children.
  • A time-sharing schedule specifying the time the children will spend with each parent.
  • How decisions regarding health care and the schooling of the children will be made.
  • How the parents will communicate with the children and each other.
  • How transportation and child exchanges will take place.
  • Arrangements for statutory holidays, school breaks, summer vacation, and religious holidays.
  • How changes to the parenting plan will be made.
  • How conflicts will be resolved.
  • How future events, such as relocation of one or both parents, will be handled.
  • The conditions and schedule for supervised visitation, if applicable.

The plan should be as detailed as possible and may contain other issues relevant to the circumstances of each individual case. Special consideration should be given to the age and needs of each child and each parent’s capacity to meet them.

Can a Parenting Plan be Changed?

An approved Florida parenting plan can be modified only if one of the following circumstances exist:

  • The children’s safety is at risk.
  • The children would benefit significantly from a modification.
  • A parent’s circumstances have changed substantially, determined by the specific facts of the case.

If you and the other parent agree to the changes, you can file your new plan with the court and it will typically be accepted, but if you seek a modification but the other parent does not agree, you will need to file a modification with the court or petition to change the timesharing order, attend a hearing, and the judge will decide if the modification is acceptable. If the judge approves the modification, the new parenting plan will become official.

Contact an Experienced Vero Beach Parenting Plan Attorney Today

Are you and your spouse struggling to put together a parenting plan that will be in the best interests of your children and also satisfy the court? Vero Beach, Florida Attorney Susan Chesnutt has dedicated her entire practice to child-welfare, and as a former social worker who knows Florida family law inside and out, she can provide the guidance your family needs. For legal advice regarding parenting plans, contact our firm online or call 772-492-3330 today.