Elements of a Florida Parenting Plan
Divorce is never easy, but it becomes even less so when there are children involved. If you and your children’s other parent are in the midst of a divorce, one document that you want to focus a significant amount of time and energy on is the parenting plan. A legally binding document, a parenting plan is one that stipulates how much time a child will spend with each parent, and when. While intended to benefit the children, a well thought out parenting plan can help minimize conflict between the parents by setting guidelines that each parent must adhere to. At the Law Offices of Schwartz | White, our attorneys will help you create a parenting plan that works best for you, your former spouse, and your children.
The Elements of a Strong Parenting Plan
Each parenting plan should address common issues – such as when each parent will get parenting time and where and when to meet to exchange the child – and not so commonly-known issues, such as whether or not each parent has the right to call the child while he or she is visiting with the other parent. Your parenting plan should address the following:
Parenting Time Schedules: The strongest parenting plans include specifics about when each parent will have physical custody of the child and for how long. For instance, some parents swap parenting time every two weeks, while others opt for a “three days with Dad, three days with Mom” type of schedule. Other divorcing couples agree that an “every other weekend with Dad” type of arrangement works best with Dad’s work schedule.
Parenting time should also be specified for the holidays. For instance, Dad may get the children on Christmas one year, and Mom the next. On the year Dad gets the children for Christmas, Mom will get them for Thanksgiving, and vice versa.
Drop-Off and Pick-Up: Many parents do not consider drop-off and pick-up, but if not specified in the order, it can quickly become a point of contention. While during the school year it might make the most sense for the parent whose house the child wakes up at to drop the child off at school, and for the other parent to pick them up from school, during breaks, or for non-school-aged children, it may be a bit more complicated than that. To keep one parent from always having to do the driving, it may be best to stipulate where and when drop-off and pick-ups will occur, and who will do the driving and when. For instance, your parenting plan may stipulate that Dad will bring the children to Mom’s house when his parenting time is up, and Mom will drive the children to Dad when it is time to switch again (instead of Dad having to drop-off and pick-up).
Determinations Regarding Expense Responsibilities: To minimize conflict, you should determine who would be responsible for what expenses in the agreement. For instance, Mom may agree to pay for school tuition if Dad agrees to pay for all after school activities and healthcare.
Parental Contact Guidelines: If you and your spouse just cannot get along, you may want to set some guidelines stipulating how you will contact each other regarding the children (phone, email, or text message?).
Guidelines for Revisiting the Parenting Plan: Parenting plans are not set in stone, so if you and your spouse find that your current arrangement does not work for you, you have the opportunity to revisit the agreement. You also have the opportunity to stipulate a re-visitation of the agreement every three years or so, depending on what you and your spouse agree on.
For more information on how Florida law determines what is and is not an acceptable parenting plan, review Florida Statute 61.13.
Consult a Boca Raton Child Custody Attorney
At the Law Offices of Schwartz | White, our Boca Raton child custody lawyers ultimately hope to help you come up with an agreement that will minimize the impact of yours and your spouse’s separation on your children. To create a parenting plan that will benefit your entire family, contact our team at 561.391.9943 today.