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FLORIDA LAW requires divorcing parents of minor children to create a Parenting Plan. The purpose of the plan is to set forth clearly how the parents will share time with the children—essentially; it gets everything in writing and everyone on the same page.
A Parenting Plan is required even if both parents say they agree on all potential time-sharing issues.
At a minimum, the Parenting Plan should include information on:
1. How the parents will share the daily tasks of co-parenting their children.
2. Schedules and time sharing arrangements, including details on when the children will spend time with each parent, how they will be transported between the parties, and which parent will be responsible for transportation needs.
3. The party responsible for school-related matters, health care, and completing and filing paperwork and forms with the school (such as registration) and for health care purposes.
4. All methods and technologies the parents will use to communicate with children.
Typical Parenting Plans include:
1. The contact information of both the parents.
2. Names and birthdates of the children.
3. Information about where the children will reside.
4. Whether the parents will share parental responsibility, one parent will have more decision-making authority than the other, or whether a parent is to have sole parental responsibility.
5. How parents will handle day-to-day decision-making when they may not be able to coordinate with one another, or on non-major issues.
6. How decisions will be made regarding extra-curricular activities (and associated costs).
7. How parents will share information about their children (unless otherwise prohibited by law, each parent shall have access to medical and school records and be permitted to consult with any and all professionals involving the children)
8. Scheduling details including information about the school calendar, school holidays, and any information about how the schedule changes will be handled.
9. A time-sharing schedule for each child for weeks, weekends, and specific holidays and school breaks. In particular, parents shall make a determination as to how many overnights each parent will have with each child. This fact is important and must be specifically included in the plan and it may impact child support issues.
10.Transportation needs of each child and how these will be handled including who shall be doing the transporting, and how these costs are to be allocated. In addition to day-to-day transportation, this could include transportation for vacations, holidays and school breaks. This issue may be particularly important if a parent relocates a significant distance from the primary residence of the child.
11.How communication will be handled between each child and each parent, and how the parents shall communicate with each other about each child.
12.School designation, and the primary contact designation as required by the school or other parties.
13.How changes and modifications to the Parenting Plan are to be handled, and how any conflicts arising between the parties over the Parenting Plan and time-sharing are to be handled.
14.Any other issues which may be particular to the family.
If the parties agree to the plan, both parties may sign it in the presence of a notary, who then must notarize the plan. The parties may then file it with the court.
A good Parenting Plan will address many of the details and eventualities that may arise in co-parenting minor children of the marriage. Taking the time to work together to flesh out the details of the Parenting Plan may take quite a bit of effort and patience, particularly if parents do not easily agree on matters concerning the children. However, in the long run, a well thought out, detailed Parenting Plan can make life much easier for all concerned going forward. It also keeps the focus on the best interests of the children, which is the goal of the Florida Courts, and the goal of most parents.
If you considering divorcing your spouse and are concerned about how best to handle the situation with regard to time sharing of your minor children, please call Sandra K. Ambrose today to schedule a consultation. Sandy Ambrose has more than 27 years experience working with families to develop successful time-sharing plans for their minor children.