Why is a Parenting Plan Important in My Florida Divorce?
When separating from your child’s parent, it is imperative to have a detailed plan as to the day to day and overall care of your child. Although this may seem tedious and exhaustive, this plan directs the parenting throughout the course of your child’s formative years. You and your former partner may be able to come to a solution and plan on your own or if having difficulties with a cohesive agreement the court will be able to determine a parenting plan that is in the best interest of your child. Discuss the options with your Orlando Child Custody Attorney and the specific methods you may be able to implement in your parenting plan.
Florida maintains that each parent and child is entitled to “frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing.” Therefore, the court requires certain steps or documents, such as parenting plans, be implemented into such a disruptive process.
Florida statute provides a great deal of guidance when it comes to parenting plans. For instance, it requires bare minimums for the detail required in each plan made by a party or the court. A parenting plan must: “describe in adequate detail how the parents will share and be responsible for the daily tasks associated with the upbringing of the child; include the time-sharing schedule arrangements that specify the time that the minor child will spend with each parent; designate who will be responsible for, any and all forms of health care… school related matters… other activities; and describe in adequate detail the methods and technologies that the parents will use to communicate with the child.” These plans will have a significant impact on even the small details of your child’s life. You will be able to determine who controls the decisions regarding education or religion. Further, you will be able to plan out the child’s time spent on holidays or school vacations. With this document having such a large power, it is important to treat is as such. Ensure you make your priorities with your child known in this document. Discuss even the minor details with your Orlando Child Custody Attorney to draft them into the document to protect both you and your child’s interest.
A parenting plan is required to keep the best interest of the child in mind at all stages. The best interest of the child is a broad standard and weighs many different factors. Whether you or the court is creating the parenting plan, keep these factors as a primary consideration. Some of these factors include:
(a) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.
(b) The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
(c) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.
(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
(e) The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child.
(f) The moral fitness of the parents.
(g) The mental and physical health of the parents.
(h) The home, school, and community record of the child.
(i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
(j) The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.
(k) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
(l) The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.
(m) Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, the court must specifically acknowledge in writing that such evidence was considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.
(n) Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.
(o) The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.
(p) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
(q) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
(r) The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.
(s) The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
(t) Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.
Discuss these details and factors with your Orlando Child Custody Attorney. They will be able address them with you and how each may be applied in your unique parenting plan.
It is clear that parenting plans are crucial to the wellbeing of your child’s upbringing as well as to promote a cohesive coparenting relationship. Therefore, it is beneficial to sit down with your partner and discuss these details and together draft a plan for the shared child. However, if conflicts arise, employing the skills of an experienced Orlando Child Custody attorney is imperative to make sure that your plan benefits the entire family while keeping the best interests of the child in mind. With such an important document guiding you for the remaining years of your child’s life, be sure it is completed properly and with an attention to your rights and desires.
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