Time Sharing|Parenting Plans in Florida

Chapter 61 of the Florida Statutes states:

It is the public policy of this state to assure that each minor child has 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 child-rearing.

What is a Parenting Plan?

Since October 1, 2008, Florida divorce law requires a Parenting Plan for all divorcing couples with minor children.  The parenting plan is a written document (plan) that addresses all aspects of time-sharing that is agreed to, signed by the parties and approved by the Court.

Florida law has had a strong public policy about children and divorce for several decades. Formerly known as a visitation schedule, a Parenting Plan is required in most new cases that involve children.  The Parenting Plan requirement must be met for all Florida divorces involving children and custody and visitation cases.  A parenting plan is also required in all Paternity cases.  The terms parental responsibility and time-sharing are used in the parenting plan instead of custody and visitation.

Description of Terms used in Parenting Plan:

Parental responsibility refers to the authority that both parents have to make decisions about the child’s education, religious upbringing, activities, discipline, health care and other issues related to the child.  A parent can have shared or sole parental responsibility.

Shared parental responsibility is when both parents make decisions for and about the child.  Unless it is not in the best interest of the child, the parents should have shared parental responsibility and it is favored by the courts.

Sole parental responsibility is when one parent has the right to make all decisions without consulting the other parent.  A parent can have sole parental responsibility with or without time-sharing with the other parent.  If the parties do not agree to sole parental responsibility, the court will only order sole parental responsibility if it is in the best interest of the child.  The party asking for sole parental responsibility will have to prove to the court that sole parental responsibility is in the best interest of the child using the factors listed in the statute.  See Florida Statues 61.13.

Time-sharing refers to when and how long each parent spends time with the child or children.  Different children can have different Parenting Plans.

Information required in a parenting plan:

  1. A written description about how each parent will share the responsibility for the daily tasks of raising the child.
  2. A time-sharing schedule that lists the time the child will spend with each parent. The schedule can be very detailed and specific or broad depending on what will agree to. When drafting the parenting plan, it is important to keep in mind the age of the child and how the future age of the child will change the parenting plan.
  3. The parenting plan should address which parent will be responsible for school and extracurricular activities.
  4. The parenting plan should also list who will be responsible for daycare and health care.
  5. The parenting plan must state how the parents will communicate about the child Will the parents communicate by text or email or by telephone.

The Florida Supreme Court has approved three generic parenting plans that apply in certain cases.  There is an approved parenting plan when two parents live in close proximity to each other.  When the child’s safety is at issue you can use a supervision and safety focused plan.  There is a parenting plan will addresse the unique factors when one parent is relocating or the parents live relatively far away from each other.

Ultimately if the parties cannot agree on a parenting plan the court will decide on a plan after analyzing what is in the best interest of the child.  Once a parenting plan is entered as a court order, it can be enforced just like any other order.  Parenting plans are important documents that should not be entered into without a thorough discussion of each section of the plan.

Parenting Plans can have far-reaching effects and can be hard to modify once approved by the Court.  It is important to seek legal advice when entering into a parenting plan.  At the Law Office of Debora A. Diaz, PLLC, we can negotiate specialized parenting plans with provisions that are unique to your family and case.

For a consultation on this issue or other Family and Marital Law matters call the Law Office of Debora A. Diaz at 727-846-1802 to schedule a consultation.  Know your rights.

Written by Debora A. Diaz, Esq.

Divorce|Family Law Attorney


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