Do I Need a Parenting Plan?
When a couple chooses to divorce, there are typically many decisions that have to be made, including how to share their children's custody. According to Florida law, a parenting plan is a document explaining how each parent will meet their child's needs after their divorce and how they will share custody.
Keep reading to learn what should be included in your parenting plan, how this plan can be modified, and how our family law attorneys at Schipani, Norman & McLain, P.A. can help.
How to Form a Parenting Plan
The court must approve the parenting plan and both parents must reach a consensus on how their children will be raised. This plan must anticipate specific issues that may arise and come up with solutions as to how each situation will be handled. Though you may not be able to plan for every possible issue or occurrence, this parenting plan must map out:
- Custody arrangements.
- Time-sharing agreements.
- Extracurricular activities.
- Medical and healthcare matters.
- School and other relevant circumstances.
Planning these situations out before divorcing will help ensure the best care for your children. Additionally, if one parent fails to agree on the plan or come up with their portion of the plan, a court can deny the plan and intervene — creating their own agenda that the couple must agree to. It’s in the best interest of the parents and the children to handle this without the court.
How to Form a Parenting Plan
According to Florida statute 61.13(2)(b), a Florida parenting plan must explain:
- How parental responsibilities, rights, and child care tasks will be shared.
- How time-sharing will be divided with specific time-sharing schedules, with transportation and child exchanges outlined.
- How decisions about the child’s/children’s education, medical care, extracurricular activities, religious participation, travel, and discipline will be shared.
- How expenses related to child care will be divided (separate from any child support agreement).
- How parents will communicate with each other and how children will communicate with each parent at all times.
- How changes and conflicts with the plan will be handled and resolved.
Can I Modify a Parenting Plan?
After you’ve made your parenting plan and have your divorce customized through the court, the decision will be finalized. However, changes with your child’s school or needs, or changes with your work schedule, employment, and location may cause you to consider modifying your child custody agreement.
Valid Reasons for a Modification
Modifications are possible — however, they must have a valid reason. If you feel that your current visitation or custody agreement no longer works with your situation, the court will mandate that you make it work or come to an agreement with your co-parent.
If this is not possible without legal counsel, you can dispute your agreement and request modifications in court.
Typically, a Florida court will only agree to a modification if a parent can prove a significant change in their circumstances, such as:
- A long-distance move.
- A change in a parent's ability to care for the child full-time or part-time.
- A long-term change to one of the parent's work schedules.
- A change in the child’s needs in relation to their health or age.
A child support modification in Florida must be involuntary in nature — meaning that a person who voluntarily quits their job will most likely be denied a modification.
Evidence Needed for Child Custody Agreements
You may need to bring the following examples to prove a significant change in you or your child’s situation to support the need for a modification:
- A report of actual parenting time versus scheduled parenting time.
- A report of problems that have occurred during custody.
- A record of any police incidents enforcing your custody order.
- Documentation of a change in work or location.
- Testimonies from your child’s doctor, teacher, or other witnesses.
- Records of medical, school, and criminal importance.
- Other unofficial examples, including social media posts and texts.