What is a Parenting Plan and Do I Need One?

No part of a divorce is pleasant, but when you have children, making decisions about how their lives will be affected is especially difficult. In Florida, a parenting plan is a requirement for child custody matters. The primary intent of the plan is always done in what is the best interest of the children and enables the divorcing couple to make decisions about the children ahead of time, saving confusion and heartache down the road.

What is a Parenting Plan?

Parenting plans address issues commonly referred to as “custody,” “parental responsibility” and “visitation.” Florida Statute § 61.13(2)(b) sets out the minimum requirements for the issues that must be addressed in a parenting plan. These include:

  • A description “in adequate detail” on how the parents will share daily tasks associated with the upbringing of a child;

  • A time-sharing schedule that spells out the time the child will spend with each parent;

  • A designation of who will be responsible for healthcare, school-related matters and other activities;

  • Methods and technologies the parents will use to communicate with each other and with the child; and,

  • File a Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) form.

Parenting plans can include restraining orders due to certain types of conduct, like disparaging the other party in front of the child. It can restrain drinking around the child if drinking has been a risk in the past. It can really include any provision that would benefit the child at all. How parents are going to resolve conflicts, if there are weddings and funerals for which parents need to accommodate each other, under what circumstances school attendance would be excused.

The Importance of a Parenting Plan

The court’s top priority is the well-being of the children, and the Parenting Plan will cater to the children’s best interests and needs. Having a Parenting Plan in place reduces conflict between parents because it addresses most issues that will occur before they happen. This eliminates the need to negotiate a decision between the parents each time a new issue arises.

If you are in the process of choosing divorce, or you are already separately parenting your children without success, it is important to your child’s well-being to have consistency from, and cooperation of both parents.

Let Autumn Beck Blackledge PLLC know how we can help by calling one of our Pensacola family law attorneys at (850) 404-7263.