Parenting Plan Attorneys

If you have minor children from a marriage or a paternity case, whether you resolve your case through a final hearing or a settlement, the court will enter a parenting plan for your children. In the simplest terms, a parenting plan is a road map for nearly every issue involving your children after your divorce.

  • Where will your children spend their time?
  • When will you exchange the children with your former spouse?
  • How will major decisions for the minor children be made?
  • How will transportation be handled?

A parenting plan attempts to answer all those questions and more.  

Parenting Plan & Family Law Lawyers

Under Section 61.13, Florida Statutes, a parenting plan must include the following:

  1. A statement, in adequate detail, how the parents will share and be responsible for the daily tasks associated with the upbringing of the child;

  2. The time-sharing schedule arrangements that specify the time that the minor child will spend with each parent;

  3. A designation of who will be responsible for any and all forms of health care, school-related matters including the address to be used for school-boundary determination and registration, and other activities;

  4. The methods and technologies that the parents will use to communicate with the child.

While the list of required provisions for a parenting plan is relatively short, the average parenting plan is lengthy and goes into great detail. The goal of a parenting plan is to give as much structure and detail as possible so as to reduce ambiguity and thus reduce conflict between the parents. However, a parenting plan must also remain somewhat flexible to accommodate the child’s changing needs as they grow older. This can be extremely challenging when you consider that a parenting plan entered for a three-year-old child is supposed to last until that child is 18 years old.  

The parenting plan will provide for a “regular” schedule and a “holiday” schedule. As one would expect, the regular schedule will cover the time the minor child spends with each parent during the year excluding holiday time. The holiday can cover any holiday the parties choose. The typical holidays covered are Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year's, Easter, Labor Day and Memorial Day. These holidays are typically times when the minor children are out of school. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are also typically covered. A parenting plan should also provide for who pays for daycare during these times if necessary and how the actual holiday will be defined and divided between the parties.  

Parental Responsibilities

Most parenting plans will also provide for shared parental responsibility which requires the parents to agree on important decision in the child’s life. Shared parental responsibility is not specifically related to time-sharing. Instead, it deals with the process of making major decisions for the children. The court must order shared parental responsibility “unless the court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child.” See 61.30, Florida Statutes.

In practice, shared parental responsibility is ordered in the vast majority of cases.  

A showing that one parent has not been as involved as the other or is simply not as good of a parent as the other will not lead to a finding that shared parental responsibility is detrimental for a child. Also, simply because one parent is the majority time-sharing parent or spends the vast majority of time with thechild does not mean that parent will get “sole parental responsibility.” However, the court is not limited to an all-or-nothing decision. The court can order ultimate decision-making authority to one parent that would allow that parent to make specific decisions for the minor children after consulting with the other parent, even if the other parent does not agree with the decision. Specifically, Section 61.30, Florida Statutes, states, in relevant part:

“In ordering shared parental responsibility, the court may consider the expressed desires of the parents and may grant to one party the ultimate responsibility over specific aspects of the child’s welfare or may divide those responsibilities between the parties based on the best interests of the child. Areas of responsibility may include education, health care, and any other responsibilities that the court finds unique to a particular family."

In practice, ultimate decision-making responsibility is not ordered in the majority of cases, but it is awarded more easily and more frequently than sole parental responsibility. This is because the court is operating under the standard of “best interest of the child” and not as to whether awarding shared parental responsibility as to that specific issue would be a detriment to the minor children.

Contact a Family Law Attorney

In summary, a parenting plan is one of the most important documents in any divorce with minor children. Our experienced divorce and family law attorneys can work with you to design a parenting plan that works for you and your family. It is of the utmost importance that your parenting plan be thorough and custom tailored to your family. Call The Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates to speak to one of our family law attorneys about drafting the right parenting plan for you and your family.