How do parenting plans work in Florida?

Parenting plans in Florida are designed to benefit the children involved in a separation and to avoid future conflicts.

Going through a divorce in Florida can be a challenging experience. Marriages represent shared experiences and expectations, as well as assets and responsibilities. The process of separating what neither party may have ever intended to separate can be uncomfortable, frustrating and traumatic. All of those sentiments may be magnified when children are involved. The lives of any children between the separating parents will necessarily change. However, divorce puts the nature of each parent's role into question. Florida courts prioritize the well-being of children after their parents divorce. For this reason, the courts require separating parents to submit parenting plans.

What is a parenting plan?

A parenting plan in Florida is a court order, which specifies the entitlements and responsibilities of separating parents pertaining to their children. Specifically, parenting plans address potentially contentious issues, such as child custody, child visitation and other parent-child matters. In order to avoid potentially negative parent-child consequences from the hostility that may exist between separating parents, the courts require the collaborative submission of these plans.

The goal of the courts is to help parents plan for every plausible contingency. This extends to education goals, extracurricular activities and medical needs. The hope is that this preparation will result in fewer conflicts in the future. This means greater stability for the children involved, as well as fewer emotional and financial costs to the separating parents going forward.

Submission and review

If the parents are unable to agree on a parenting plan, the court will determine a plan that is concluded to be appropriate for the specific case. If the parents agree on a parenting plan, they will submit it, whereupon the court will review it. Factors under consideration will include the ability of each parent to maintain a close relationship with the children, the suitability of each parent and the developmental needs of the children.

If the court determines that the submitted plan is consistent with the factors the court values, the court may accept it. If the submitted plan is determined to be inconsistent with those factors, the court may reject it and enforce an alternative. For example, if the court determines that the submitted plan does not account for the respective geographic locations of the parents or a history of child abuse, the court may issue an alternative plan.

Legal representation

Parenting plans include a wide variety of decisions for parents to make with each other. These decisions, such as child custody, may have long-term consequences on parent-child relationships. For this reason, parents who are required to submit a parenting plan in Florida may wish to consult with a family law attorney.

Keywords: divorce, child, custody, parenting plan