A Parenting Plan is required in every family court case involving children. The Parenting Plan is either an agreement entered into by the parents or ordered by the Court at the end of a hearing. Parties can have a temporary parenting plan put in place while the case is in litigation or a final parenting plan by which they are bound once it is raitified, or made into a court order. What goes into a Parenting Plan is important to know and understand.
In a Parenting Plan, you must discuss parental responsibility. Parental responsibility is the decision-making part of being a parent, i.e., who determines what medical treatment your child gets, what school they go to, and any other major life decisions about the child. There are three types of parental responsibilities that can be included: shared parental responsibility, sole parental responsibility, or shared parental responsibility with ultimate decision-making to one parent. Each family is different, and which option is more appropriate for your child can vary.
Parenting Plans must also describe the timesharing the parents will have with the children. Timesharing is the amount of time you spend with your children. A good Parenting Plan will have specific days each parent gets with the children, with start times and ends time, and pick up and drop off locations. Each family has different needs so this section varies from case to case.
Child support should also be included in parenting plans. Child support in Florida is a formula that must be calculated and included in parenting plans when there are children involved. The Courts do not permit parties to "waive" child support.
A Parenting Plan should also include holidays: which parent sees the child during which holiday. Just as timesharing this can vary greatly depending on families. Some wish to split the day, others wish to alternate. In either case, you want to make sure your family's important holidays are dealt with properly in the Parenting Plan.
It's important to remember that this Parenting Plan, until changed by agreement or Court order, is binding on the parties and is to be followed until the child turns 18. Obviously, if both parents are in agreement to alternate the terms, it's completely up to them. The Court does not micromanage parents once a case is over. However, if the parents do not agree, this Parenting Plan determines what happens with the family and what terms are followed.
Since each family and every child's needs are different, a Parenting Plan can vary greatly. It's important to make sure to include anything that could be important to your child until he or she turns 18. It can be cumbersome to come up with a good Parenting Plan on your own. Our attorneys are here to help.