A parenting plan in a Florida divorce is a written document approved by the court which sets forth important matters pertaining to the couple’s minor children. The parenting plan can be agreed upon by the parents or it can be determined by the court. Specifically, the parenting plan will cover matters such as parental responsibility and timesharing. The primary statute in Florida describing parenting plans is found at Section 61.13, Fla. Stat.
In Florida, the term “custody” is no longer a proper term in a divorce. Instead, applicable family law statutes use the terms “parental responsibility” and “timesharing” in describing what was commonly referred to as “custody.” Parental responsibility contemplates how major decisions involving minor children will be made. Typically, shared or joint parental responsibility is the norm whereby the parents share responsibilities for the children. Under shared parental responsibility, major decisions such as those involving education, medical care, religious upbringing, etc. for minor children are supposed to be made jointly by the parents.
With sole parental responsibility, all of these major decisions are made by one parent. Florida courts will normally only award sole parental responsibility to one parent under extreme circumstances such as those involving abuse or significant neglect of the children. In Florida, awarding one parent sole parental responsibility for minor children (or what some laymen would call “sole custody”) is the exception rather than the rule. By law, a family law court should only award sole parental responsibility if the court determines that ordering shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the best interests of the children.
Timesharing describes the schedule of when the children spend time with each parent. Because family law courts in Florida are courts of equity, they can award timesharing based on what the court determines is in the best interests of the minor children. Ultimately, this is the overriding objective of a parenting plan.
Florida courts favor minor children spending as much time as possible with each parent. However, the court’s determination of how timesharing will occur varies depending on the circumstances. By way of example, if the minor children reside primarily with one parent, the other parent might have overnight timesharing every other weekend and on one or two nights during the week. Provision may also be made for timesharing on holidays, with major holidays usually being alternated or at least divided between the parents. Each parent may also be given a continuous period of time during the summer. Timesharing may vary significantly from this example if one parent lives at a location distant from the minor children. For example, if one parent lives in Tampa and the other in Miami, the children live primarily with one parent but spend time with the other parent on holidays and for an extended period during the summer (sometimes as much as the majority of the summer).
While a parenting plan lays out the parental responsibility and timesharing, it may also address other issues involving minor children. For example, the plan may address school selection, medical insurance for the children, travel, communication with the children, and payment of children’s expenses such as school supplies, uncovered medical costs, and extracurricular activities.
One additional important provision covered by good parenting plan is how disputes will be resolved. If the parents cannot agree on something involving the children, having a framework to resolve the dispute is beneficial to both the parents and the children.
If you are facing a divorce, you will benefit by having an experienced family law attorney represent you—especially if there are minor children involved. At Lins Law Group, P.A. https://www.linslawgroup.com/divorce-family-law ,we represent parents facing divorce and can assist you in getting an effective parenting plan.