March 15, 2008

6 Critical Areas for Your Florida Parenting Plan

When deciding how to divide the children’s time after the divorce, parents often write parenting plans. Parenting plans spell out the terms of the children’s timesharing with each parent and each parent’s responsibility for decision making and support after divorce. Temporary parenting plans can also be used before the final judgment. Parenting plans are the most important part of your documents in a divorce with children.

Parenting plans can be as detailed or as vague as the parents want. Florida courts have “model schedules” for visitation in each circuit (and sometimes in each county). You will want to read the model schedule for your area for two reasons. First, you will see what a partial parenting plan looks and sounds like. Second, you may decide that the model schedule in your area is appropriate for your family. If so, the bulk of your parenting plan work is done.

If the model schedule for your area is not appropriate for your family, you may decide that the model plan can be re-worked for your family. You may also want to do an online search and look at some other parenting plan language.

When writing a parenting plan, at a minimum, you should include the following 6 items in your parenting plan:

  1. Information about the children – names and dates of birth
  2. Standards of Parental Conduct – how parents act toward each other & children
  3. Parental Responsibility - Decision making
  4. Primary Residence – Timesharing
  5. Child support – Guideline calculation/deviation, college
  6. How the Plan Can be Changed – Written and signed by both, triggers

Developing the parenting plan can help you become clearer about what your expectations for your former spouse are. It can also help you focus on the long-range plan for your children. Parents with young children have to look far into the future and consider how those future decisions will be made and the future responsibilities allocated.

Through the years, I’ve noticed that parents who work hard to develop a detailed parenting plan tend to return to court less. I think the success for the plan is equal to the time you put into developing it. The parenting plan is a roadmap for your children’s future.

You will probably want to include many more items in your plan. The six items listed here are the bare minimum requirements for a parenting plan.

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