If you are a parent who is unmarried or divorcing your spouse, you are going to have to establish who will be taking care of your children if both parents want and/or have parental rights. This will involve creating a parenting plan with which both of you will be expected to comply.
A parenting plan is a tool used by Florida courts to specify parental rights, set rules for custody and visitation, and dictate expectations. This plan is typically developed by the parents, so it can be wise to know what you may want to include in your own parenting plan.
As instructed by the Florida Supreme Court, a traditional parenting plan will usually address the following details:
- Weekly breakdowns of custody and visitation times
- Holiday and/or vacation schedules
- Regular responsibilities of each parent, including legal and routine decision-making rights
- Designation of who can or will be responsible for health care and education matters
- Instructions for sharing information with each other
- Rules for custody exchanges
- Travel allowances or restrictions
- Approved communication measures between parents and between parents and the child
These are just some of the things you will need to discuss and decide on when you are creating a parenting plan.
Of course there can be other issues unique to your situation that you may want to address in your parenting plan, and you may decide that other elements are irrelevant and unnecessary. When parents are able to draw up these plans together and with the help of their attorneys, it can be easier to make a plan that is fair, appropriate and reflective of the individual situation at hand.
If you are unable to come to an agreement on one or more parts of a parenting plan, the decision could be left up to a judge who is much less familiar with your individual situation and background. However, many parents prefer to avoid this and resolve plans outside of the courtroom.
No matter how your parenting plan is developed, having legal guidance will be crucial to ensure your rights are protected and the resulting plan is fair and enforceable. Failure to consult an attorney could lead to problematic disputes and costly mistakes.