Parenting Plans

The Parenting Plan is a formal document signed by a Florida Family Law Judge and oftentimes the parties that governs all aspects of the parent/child relationship.  The scope of the parenting plan often includes, but may not be limited to, specifically directing who will have parental responsibility for the children, when each parent will be afforded visitation with their children, who will transport the children to the parental exchange and how the exchange will take place.  

The parenting plan may also control the manner in which each parent will communicate with each other about the children, the schooling of the children and make specific arrangements for child care.  In forming the parenting plan the court will determine what it believes to be in the best interest of the child or children and will consider all circumstances between the parties and the child or children involved in the divorce.  Such circumstances or factors include:

  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required;
  •  The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties;
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child(ren) as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent;
  • The length of time the child(ren) has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
  • The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan;
  • The moral fitness of the parents;
  • The mental and physical health of the parents;
  • The home, school, and community record of the child(ren);
  • The reasonable preference of the child(ren), if the court deems the child(ren) to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference;
  • The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child(ren), including, but not limited to, the child(ren)’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things;
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child(ren), such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime;
  • The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child(ren), and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child(ren);
  • Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought;
  • Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect;
  • The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division or parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties;
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child(ren)’s school and extracurricular activities;
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child(ren) which is free from substance abuse;
  • The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child(ren) from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child(ren), not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child(ren), and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child(ren) [also known as parental alienation; and
  • The developmental stages and needs of the child(ren) and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child(ren)’s developmental needs.

The parenting plan governs this role and the relationship you will share with your kids after divorce.  For this reason, the parenting plan should be taken very seriously as it may control your involvement in the life of your child or children for many years to come. For more information about forming a Parenting Plan going through your divorce or if you have questions about any matter involving child custody, visitation, time sharing or parental responsibility please contact Matthew C. Bothwell, P.A.