When you are involved in a time-sharing case where a minor child is involved, a parenting plan is always required. This is true whether you are going to court because you are obtaining a divorce or because a former partner wants shared custody. It's also true even when time-sharing is not disputed.
At Veliz Katz Law, we help our clients develop strong parenting plans with your interests and your child's interests as a priority. We will advocate for you and your rights. And we will guide you through this emotional process in a way that seeks a positive outcome for all parties. Below is an overview of parenting plans in Florida. Contact our office located in Orlando to schedule a free initial consultation to get more specific questions answered about your case.
What is a parenting plan?
A parenting plan is a plan created preferably by the parents, whether they had been married or not, that outlines how they are to care for the child. The plan is more than a custody plan because it can involve much more than who has the child when. All co-parenting issues can be outlined in a parenting plan. In fact, these plans can be very detailed.
Florida has outlined specific requirements for a parenting plan, and the Florida Supreme Court has approved a basic parenting plan and a supervised/safety-focused parenting plan. Florida Statutes § 61.13001 also provides for a relocation/long-distance parenting plan. Forms specific to these parenting plans are available through the Orange County court system, and they are designed to address all aspects of parenting.
Once you and your ex prepare a parenting plan, the following procedures must occur:
- The parenting plan must be notarized – both parties' signatures must be witnessed by a notary public or deputy clerk.
- The parenting plan must then be filed with the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Orange County if that's where the petition was filed.
- A final hearing will be set and the court will review and approve (or not) the parenting plan.
Once a court order has been issued, the parenting plan is set. You and your ex, however, can make changes from time to time – if you both agree to them. For example, if you need to be out of town for business, your ex may agree to watch your child(ren) while you are away and then allow you to recover that time later.
What must be included in a Florida parenting plan?
Not all the information in the above-mentioned forms must be provided. There is a minimum, however, that must be met. Orange County Circuit Court requires the below information to be included in the parenting plan.
- adequate details about how the parties intend to share and be responsible for the upbringing of their child(ten) on a daily basis
- adequate details about time-sharing arrangements, specifically including the time each minor child will spend with each parent
- adequate details about responsibility for health care and school-related matters, e.g., who will pay for health insurance and which parent's address will be used to determine school registration
- adequate details about how parents will communicate with the child(ren), e.g., phone, video-call, in-person, etc.
The parenting plan must be centered on what is in the best interest of the child(ren). It is best to have a detailed plan that also includes things like a history of domestic abuse or the absence of one parent or other similar factors.
What happens if my ex and I cannot agree on a parenting plan in Florida?
The courts prefer that you and your ex agree on a parenting plan. This, however, is often not the case. Parents may first be ordered to attempt to resolve their disputes via mediation or another dispute resolution method, like Parenting Coordinators or Parenting Counselors.
When parents absolutely cannot come to an agreement, each parent files a proposed parenting plan with the court any time before the final hearing. The court will review the parenting plans and make the final decision for you.
Likewise, if neither parent files a parenting plan, the court will establish a plan – meaning you get no say in it.
Can I modify a parenting plan after a Florida court has approved it?
If you need to modify a parenting plan, it is possible. If the change is only temporary – like the example given above – the change can be made informally between you and your ex. If the change is disputed, however, then the parenting plan in effect remains in effect. In the above example, one parent needed to go away on a business trip – if the other parent refused to take the child(ren) during that time, then you would have to make other accommodations or not take the trip.
This can be upsetting and frustrating and in part is the reason why you want to make sure your parenting plan is comprehensive and addresses as many possible situations as you can think of. An experienced attorney will have the insight to know what those situations could be and how the parenting plan can address them.
If there are substantial changes needed to the parenting plan, you will have to file a supplemental petition for modification with the court where the parenting plan was initially filed and approved.
Contact a Compassionate, Experienced Family Law Attorney in Orlando FL
If you have one or more minor children and are going through a divorce, a parenting plan will be required. Likewise, if a person files a petition for custody or another arrangement, a parenting plan will also be required even if you were never married. Courts believe it is in the child's best interest to create parenting plans that are mutual and fair. If that can't be done, the courts will develop a plan and make decisions for you.
At Veliz Katz Law, we also believe that parenting plans are in the child's best interest. Second to that is the importance of having a plan that is comprehensive and addresses your specific needs. To learn how Veliz Katz Law can help you, contact us online or at 407-849-7072 to schedule a free initial consultation.