Florida law states that in matters related to child custody, a Parenting Plan must be created to and approved by the court to meet the needs of the individual child. A Parenting Plan is a document that governs the custodial agreement between the parents. In basic terms, a Parenting Plan sets forth how the parties will proceed in all decisions and situations related to the child. The Parenting Plan must at a minimum:
- 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. If the court orders shared parental responsibility over health care decisions, the parenting plan must provide that either parent may consent to mental health treatment for the child.
- Designate who will be responsible for school-related matters, including the address to be used for school-boundary determination and registration.
- Describe in adequate detail the methods and technologies that the parents will use to communicate with the child.
These items are not exhaustive, but are the minimum issues that must be addressed by the Parenting Plan. Other items the parties will want to include should address any unique requirements for raising the child as well as specific needs of the parents.
Due to the issues that must be decided in the Parenting Plan, it is important that both parents cooperate to create a parenting plan concerning how the child will be raised and how each parent will participate in doing so. However, if the parents cannot work together to create a mutually agreed upon Parenting Plan or present a Parenting Plan that the court will not approve, then the court will decide the Parenting Plan to be enforced. Therefore, it is imperative for the parties to work together to have a Parenting Plan that is decided upon by the people it will directly involve and affect. When reviewing a Parenting Plan, the court will consider the following factors:
- Each parent’s ability to maintain a close emotional relationship with the child;
- Each parent’s ability to ascertain the specific needs of the child and take the appropriate actions to address those needs;
- The geographic location of each of the parents in relation to the child;
- Each parent’s ability to provide a stable residence and home life for the child;
- The emotional, mental, and physical health of each of the parents;
- Any evidence of abuse, neglect, or abandonment of the child;
- The educational and development needs of the child; and
- Any other facts or circumstances that impact the wellbeing of the child.
The team at Forefront Law will work with you and if possible, the other parent, in order to develop a Parenting Plan that meets the needs of all parties and children involved in your case. We will work diligently to ensure that this parenting plan is then agreed upon and ordered into effect by the judge.