Parental Responsibility

Florida Parenting Plans and Divorce

Florida divorce law requires Parenting Plans for all divorcing couples with children starting as of October 1, 2008. Florida law has had a strong public policy about children and divorce for several decades. As Chapter § 61.13 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 childrearing.”

A “Parenting plan” is a document created to govern the relationship between the parties relating to the decisions that must be made regarding the minor child and shall contain a time-sharing schedule for the parents and child. The issues concerning the minor child may include, but are not limited to, the child’s education, health care, and physical, social, and emotional well-being.

In creating the parenting plan, all circumstances between the parties, including the parties’ historic relationship, domestic violence, and other factors must be taken into consideration. The parenting plan shall be developed and agreed to by the parents and approved by a court or, if the parents cannot agree, established by the court.

While some individuals think that Florida requires 50/50 time sharing to be issued in any case, the statute does not state this language. However, the goal in any case is for the children to benefit from shared parental responsibility, unless shared responsibility is detrimental to the child. The goal is to keep both parents involved in the life of the child.

Shared parental responsibility means that both parents discuss and decide major decisions affecting the child. These are the decisions that have long-term consequences in your child’s life. Some examples involve the choice of:

  • School
  • Child care facility
  • Camps
  • Doctors
  • Psychotherapy
  • Surgery
  • Other long-term medical treatment
  • Sports and other out-of-school activities
  • Trips and passports

Some additional decision-making areas to consider in your parenting plan include:

  • Transportation – How will the children be exchanged between parents? Where will the exchange take place? What happens to the exchange point when school is not in session? Who picks up and drops off the children from school and/or extra curricular activities?
  • Relocation – Under what circumstances will one parent be able to move away with the child? (If you do not decide this now, you will have to follow the procedures of Fla. Statute § 61.13001.) See Relocation section for more information.
  • Education – What school will the children attend? Whose address will be used for school designation? Who will pay for school supplies, uniforms, and school related events? Do your children attend private or public school? Who will be responsible to pay for the education costs?
  • Emergencies – What is the time frame for notifying the other parent in an emergency? What authority does the parent who has the child have to consent to treatment?
  • Make-up Time – If one parent is unable to exercise time sharing with the children, under what circumstances will there be make-up time?
  • Recreational Activities & Vacations –Which parent will pay for extra-curricular activities? Do both parents have to consent to activities in order to reimburse the other parent for the expenses? What is the plan for traveling? How much notice is required to provide the non-traveling parent with information about the trip? Who will hold the children’s passports and who is responsible for paying for the children’s passports?

Parents may want to divide up the areas, each taking responsibility for certain ones. Some parents prefer to meet and discuss all issues together and reach a joint decision. Others may allow one parent to make the decisions and inform the other parent.

There are no set rules for shared decision making, but the new law requires a description of how the parents will share the daily tasks of child upbringing and time sharing with each parent. It must also describe who is responsible for health care, school matters and activities and what communication methods the parents will use to contact the children.

At the Law Offices of Alyssa D. Honickman, we take pride in drafting our agreements and parenting plans and always place the best interests of the children at the heart of each case.

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