A parenting plan in a Florida divorce requires certain standards to be met. These minimum requirements are prescribed by Florida Statute 61.13, Florida’s Timesharing Statute. A parenting plan Florida divorce must meet those minimum standards or else a family law divorce court may reject the proposed plan. The litigants and their family law attorneys may be sent back to the proverbial drawing board to draft a plan that meets the minimum standards outlined in the Statute.
A Parenting plan in a Florida divorce must describe the role each parent will take in the child’s daily life. In practical terms this may mean a parenting plan Florida divorce should identify which parent will provide the meals, transportation, clothes, bathing, and other forms of moral, emotional and logistical support for the minor child. Some of this information may be specified in the marital settlement agreement.
What Does a Parenting plan in a Florida Divorce Include?
The plan must designate/delineate the time the child will spend with each parent. For example, Parent 1 shall have timesharing (formerly called child custody) with the minor child from Monday after school at 5:30 P.M. until Friday morning school drop-off at 8:30 A.M. Parent 2 shall have all other times. Any reasonable configuration could be appropriate provided that both parents are allowed to have time with the child (frequent and continuing contact to promote the bonds between parents and children and to encourage co-parenting for the benefit of the child).
A parenting plan in a Florida divorce must identify the parent that provides health care (the method or source of health insurance may also be appropriate) for the child. Both parents’ consent should be obtained for mental health treatment if the parties have shared parental responsibility (i.e. both parents must confer regarding all major decisions impacting the child). Mental health treatment can be expensive for families and may be covered by health insurance, but there could still be co-pays. Communicating about these expenses is vital to co-parenting.
You may have heard that a parenting plan Florida divorce must also include school designation authority. This means the plan shall specify which parent’s address will be utilized for school-boundary determination and school registration. This often impacts the timesharing schedule and can majorly influence a parent’s request for relocation.
A parenting plan in a Florida divorce must provide for the means and methods of communications between parents and children. Will the parties use Skype, Google Duo, FaceTime, text messaging, phone calls, letters, and/or any other form(s) of communication? The parents and the court must know. The plan should also incorporate the fact that both parents may share in school, health, and other pertinent records for the child.
One other minimum requirement worth referencing is that the parents shall have shared parental responsibility unless shared parental responsibility would pose a detriment to the child. For example, if one parent has been convicted of domestic violence, a rebuttable presumption is created in favor of the non-convicted parent having sole parental responsibility.
Ultimately, a parenting plan Florida divorce is about the best interests of the child. This phrase is rather generalized, but it comes down to what is best for the child’s safety, health, welfare, security, and well-being.
Jonathan Jacobs is a divorce attorney in Orlando and a divorce attorney in Clermont Florida that works with clients on their family law and paternity cases involving minor children to achieve the best outcome for timesharing and child support.