Florida Parenting Plans

Florida parenting plans govern post-divorce relationships with children by identifying the time each parent will have with their children, as well as each parent’s responsibilities to make decisions for the children.  Parenting plans are either created by the parties in an uncontested divorce or they are created by the court after a divorce trial.

The provisions of Florida parenting plans can vary widely.  The schedule of physical custody for both parents is often determined by work schedules, school calendars and holidays.  The parenting plan should also identify pick-up and drop-off locations and times, the obligation of each parent to transport the children for time-sharing, as well as any right a parent has to have the children in their care and control when the other parent cannot do so (known as back-up care rights).

Parental responsibilities for children can also vary, but are most often determined by examining the role each parent took in making decisions for the children prior to divorce.  For instance, if one parent typically took responsibility for the children’s medical care, that parent might be assigned “ultimate decision-making authority” for medical issues.  Any number of responsibilities can be assigned primarily to one parent or the other, such as academics, medical care, religious events or extracurricular activities.  Although one parent may be assigned ultimate decision-making authority over any area of the children’s lives, the court will typically designate the parenting plan as a “shared” parenting plan.  This means that both parties will retain all parental rights to their children, the right to information about their children and the right to provide input on each decision that affects their children.  Exceptions are made for cases where a parent is unfit to make decisions for the children (e.g. drug addiction or incarceration).

Most jurisdictions have a form shared parenting plan to guide parties in a divorce.  The form will contain check boxes and other standard provisions for a parenting plan and allow the parties or their attorneys to identify the rights of each parent.  An example of such a form can be found in the Okaloosa-Walton Shared Parenting Plan form.  The content of form parenting plans will usually vary from county to county in Florida.  Note that, if the form is used, edits to the plan can be difficult.  Therefore, if you want a plan that is tailored to your particular circumstances, you will need to consult with an experienced Florida family law attorney.