Florida Parenting Plan

The Importance of a Florida Parenting Plan

Every family is different, and no two divorces are alike. While some parents can work together, others find it hard to be in the same room as each other. Regardless of the situation, every couple beginning divorce proceedings needs to create a Florida parenting plan to clearly outline the rights and responsibilities of the parents.

If you are a parent in Florida without representation during your divorce, it is critical that you hire an attorney to guide you through the process and assist in creating your parenting plan.

At The Bardine Law Firm, our principal attorney Johnny Bardine has helped countless parents navigate the complex world of Florida divorces. Contact us today at (727) 605-7078 or through our website to speak to Johnny and learn how he can protect your parental rights during your divorce.

What Exactly Is A Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a written agreement outlining how both parents will share responsibilities regarding raising their children. As with most parts of the divorce process, Florida courts emphasize the importance of creating a plan that puts the child’s best interests before any petty squabbles between the former spouses.

Parents coming together to create a plan that addresses current and future needs ensures the best outcome for the child. Considerations that all successful parenting plans should include are:

  • Time-sharing and child custody arrangements and schedules
  • Child support agreements (child support is not waivable by parents in Florida)
  • Clear rules establishing which parent has decision-making powers for doctor visits, school choices, religious upbringing, extracurriculars, etc.
  • Schedules for time-sharing around holidays and vacations
  • Methods that the child can use to communicate with the other parent if not in their care
  • Mechanisms for adjusting the agreement in the future

Just because some parts of a parenting plan delineate which parent controls certain aspects of the child’s life doesn’t mean it’s all or nothing. Many people successfully co-parent and jointly make decisions regarding their child’s health, upbringing, and well-being.

Parenting plans should also be robust in how they can evolve and change over time. In addition to built-in agreements that oversee how a plan can change, parents should look to the future and understand that current arrangements might not always be feasible. For example, if both parents live an equal distance from daycare, there isn’t a problem. However, if dropping off their child at elementary school takes one parent 3x as long, a strong parenting plan will have ways to address this concern.

Types of Parenting Plans in Florida

The State of Florida provides options for parents, with four distinct types of parenting plans that fit different needs and situations. These four plans are:

  • Basic Parenting Plan
  • Long Distance Parenting Plan
  • Safety Focused Parenting Plan
  • Highly Structured Parenting Plan

A basic parenting plan is ideal for parents that separate on good terms in a non-contested divorce. These plans will have the most straightforward arrangements but may be more likely to change and evolve over time, as both parents are dedicated to their child’s future with their former spouse and will do whatever is in their best interest.

Long distance parenting plans are very similar but involve situations where parents live more than 50 miles apart. Because transportation and communication are more of a concern, long distance plans establish clear rules to facilitate transfer between the parents and foster meaningful relationships between parent and child.

Safety focused parenting plans are needed when one parent has a history of potentially dangerous behaviors. Some of these behaviors identified by the State of Florida include:

  • Hitting family members
  • Justifying violent behavior
  • Destroying property
  • Abusing drugs or substances
  • Threatening family members
  • Criminal activity

These plans will limit the opportunities of the at-risk parent. They may only be allowed to see their children under certain conditions, such as meeting in a public space or under third-party supervision. A court may remove visitation and time-sharing rights if the threat is high enough.

Highly structured family plans are standard in high-conflict divorces when parents cannot effectively communicate and agree. The rules, schedules, responsibilities, and guidelines for all aspects of the plan are described in detail. In some scenarios, these parenting plans may limit communication between parents and require intermediaries, like lawyers, to reach out to the other party.

Contact A St. Petersburg Divorce Attorney Today

While Florida does not mandate that you hire an attorney to create a parenting plan, it is highly advisable to seek legal representation, especially in high-conflict or high-asset divorces.

Contact Johnny Bardine of The Bardine Law Firm today to meet our team and start your divorce on the best possible footing. You can get in touch at (727) 605-7078 or through our website.

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