Getting divorced is difficult. Having children increases the difficulty even more. Child custody is something that parents often argue about. That is why both you and the other parent need to be on the same page when it comes to parenting your children. That is why Florida requires a parenting plan. The court must approve any parenting plan, which must describe in detail how the parents will be responsible for the daily tasks associated with raising the child. It must also include a timesharing schedule that specifies the time that the child will spend with each parent. The plan must also address issues such as health insurance and education, as well as how the parent will communicate with the child.
These are the minimum requirements. A parenting plan should include much more, as there are many other items that are involved in raising a child, as well as many things that parents can potentially argue about with each other.
A divorce is an excellent time to comprehensively address issues affecting your child’s future. You will want to imagine hypothetical scenarios and come up with solutions. You will then want to propose topics and solutions with the other parent, which takes time and effort. Once you create a thorough, comprehensive plan, the next step is to submit it to the court so you can resolve disagreements as they arise.
What else should you include in a parenting plan? Here are some possible topics.
A parenting schedule outlines how your children will divide time between both parents’ homes. How often will the children see each parent? Will it be a 50/50 schedule or some other split? What happens when there is a conflict? How will the children be transported between homes? Will they instead be dropped off at safe locations?
Holidays and time off from school can be tricky when it comes to parenting time. Both parents may want the children at the same time, so how will you share time with your children over holidays, school breaks, birthdays, vacations, and other special occasions? It may be a good idea to come up with a schedule that goes two to three years into the future so that you can plan ahead and anticipate any issues.
Spending Time With Family and Friends
A good parenting plan nails down how children will spend time with parents, but what about other family members? For example, when will children see grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins? What about close family friends? You will want to include these details when writing your parenting plan. If there are people you do not want your child to be around, you will want to make that known in the plan, as well. Talk to your lawyer about this to protect your child.
A parenting plan can also set expectations for communication, if that is someone you are concerned about. How often should the parents be in contact with each other? In what situations should the other parent contact you? What is the best way to get in touch with you? Do you prefer texts or phone calls? Make your communication preferences known so you and the other parent are on the same page with important issues concerning your child.
Decision Making Authority
How you and the other parent will make decisions about discipline, education, medical care, religion, and other topics should be discussed in the parenting plan. Will one parent decide on certain matters? Even if the court has already decided all these details, they should all be written out in your parenting plan so that you can reference them as needed.
Many children engage in after school activities, such as clubs, sports, and music lessons. If they are going to continue these activities after the divorce, then details about the logistics should be listed in the parenting plan. Who will transport them to and from the activity? Who will pay for any costs involved? If you do not support one of your child’s activities, does the other parent support it? If so, will you allow your child to continue it? Make sure this is all outlined in the plan.
Children often have multiple forms of technology, such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers. How will these devices be managed? What are your rules for screen time? If one parent wants to buy a child a new electronic device, how will this be managed? Can one parent take away technology as a form of discipline? Children will want to use technology to do homework and communicate with friends, so both parents need to be on the same page in this regard to avoid any stress and miscommunication.
Children can be expensive to take care of. Things like medical expenses, school tuition, extracurricular activities, food, and clothing all add up. Who will pay for these expenses? How will you split them up with the other parent? In some cases, this may already be predetermined for your family by the court. However., you should still put the details in your plan.
Seek Legal Help
Child custody matters can be contentious. A solid parenting plan can help you and the other parent stay on track and avoid disagreements.
Broward County divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler can help you share parental responsibility with a minimal amount of stress. We have more than 30 years of experience dealing with family matters. To schedule a consultation, call (954) 398-5712 or fill out the online form.