Why Do Florida Courts Require Parenting Plans for Child Custody & Time Sharing?
In Florida the courts require that parents use a Florida Supreme Court Approved parenting plan form which becomes part of the final court order and which acts as a type of custody agreement. A parenting plan establishes when the children will spend time with each parent and provides solutions to how matters regarding the children will be handled. The parenting plan addresses school schedules, including after school and extracurricular activities, holiday schedules and also healthcare matters, such as non-emergency and emergency medical care. It also addresses how schedule changes will be dealt with, who will be responsible for transportation. The Florida approved parenting plan also addresses out of area or out of State travel requirements, child relocation and dispute and conflict resolutions.
The courts require the form to help parents avoid many conflicts by establishing a plan that both parents agree upon. When parents cannot agree, the courts will define each parent’s responsibilities. It is always in the best interest of the child for parents to work together filing out the parenting plans, rather than have a judge decide. This will make it easier on both the mother and father, as well as the children. Remember, parents working together to create a parenting plan that encourages a healthy relationship with both parents can make a big difference on how your children will adjust. Hiring an experienced Tampa Bay child custody lawyer to help you work through the issues of time sharing and custody, especially in high conflict child custody cases can be beneficial to ensuring the best outcome for you and your children. If you need a child custody lawyer in Tampa, New Tampa, South Tampa, Carrollwood, Westchase, Brandon, Valrico or in Land O Lakes, Lutz, Wesley Chapel in Pasco County, call our office to schedule a consultation. Telephone: (813) 879-4600
Florida Statutes states:
“It is the public policy of this state 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. There is no presumption for or against the father or mother of the child or for or against any specific time-sharing schedule when creating or modifying the parenting plan of the child.”
(a) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.
(b) The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
(c) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.
(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
(e) The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child.
(f) The moral fitness of the parents.
(g) The mental and physical health of the parents.
(h) The home, school, and community record of the child.
(i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
(j) The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.
(k) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
(l) The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.
(m) Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, the court must specifically acknowledge in writing that such evidence was considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.
(n) Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.
(o) The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.
(p) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
(q) The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
(r) The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.
(s) The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
(t) Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.
(4)(a) When a parent who is ordered to pay child support or alimony fails to pay child support or alimony, the parent who should have received the child support or alimony may not refuse to honor the time-sharing schedule presently in effect between the parents.
(b) When a parent refuses to honor the other parent’s rights under the time-sharing schedule, the parent whose time-sharing rights were violated shall continue to pay any ordered child support or alimony.
Source: Fl. Statutes 61.13. Support of children; parenting and time-sharing; powers of court.