When you are going through a divorce with children involved, there are a lot of issues that need to be worked out between the parents when it comes to raising the children and paying for their needs. Even if you do agree on things like child support, visitation, or timesharing, themselves contentious, time-consuming issues to work out, there are still so many details that need to be agreed upon by the parents.

Who will pick up and drop off the kids? What extracurriculars will they participate in, and who pays? What about uncovered medical expenses? Who decides on the child’s diet? Literally, every detail of a child’s life needs to be coordinated between the two now-divorced parents.

A Lot of Fighting

In the old days, this led to a lot of very costly, time-consuming, and expensive fighting. Getting parents who may be hostile to one another to agree to anything is tough, but now they have to agree to every single detail about raising the child, now and in the future, and coordinate their co-parenting activities as divorced parents. 

If parents forgot any detail about any of this when the divorce was finalized, they would likely be back in court, fighting about it later on.

The Move to Parenting Plans

That’s why, in 2018, Florida moved to what is known as a parenting plan. A parenting plan is a prewritten form, with almost every detail about the child’s life, upbringing, and coordination between parents, pre-written on a form. All the parents have to do is fill in blanks or check in boxes.

The parenting form, which can be found here, contains things that you may not, at first, think about. For example, the form has:

Parents may also want to include items for the future, especially if there are young kids so that the parenting plan doesn’t need to be revisited when young children reach the teenage or young adult years.

This is just a short list to give you an example of the detail that is contained in a parenting plan. At first, it may seem onerous to fill the entire form out. But the goal is to reduce the confusion and ambiguity that often lands parents back into court later on and to provide clarity about the rights and responsibilities of the parents.

There is even a separate parenting plan for parents who are long distance from each other, with provisions that are unique to parents in this situation. There are separate parenting plans for parents who are generally amenable to working out problems or situations as they may arise in life, and a more structured, rigid plan, for parents who do not work well together and, thus, may need more details included in the parenting plan.

You Can be Flexible 

Although the parenting plan is a pre-written “fill in the blank” form, that does not mean that parents have to stick to the constraints of the form. Parents are free to modify, add to, or alter the form in whatever way fits their unique situation.

There is no right way or wrong way to fill out a parenting plan. The parents can model the plan how they see fit, with whatever provisions work for them. For example, parents can include who will pay for a minor’s car when the minor gets old enough or how the parents will save money for the child’s eventual college education. Parents can add, subtract or modify language in the plan. 

Parents who resolve their differences through mediation or some other out-of-court resolution have more flexibility, given that they can craft whatever they want in a parenting plan without just relying on what a judge decides.

A judge will ultimately have to approve of a parenting plan, but so long as the parties agree and there is nothing harmful in the plan to the children, most judges will approve the plan that the parents have agreed to in mediation or through negotiation.

Considerations for the Parenting Plan

There are a number of factors you should consider when filling out your parenting plan. Some of the more important ones include:

Your parenting plan is a vitally important document in your divorce and in your child’s life. Make sure you have attorneys that can explain it to you and give you the pros and cons of any decisions or choices you make on the form. We can help you craft a parenting plan that works for you. Contact us for help with your time-sharing and child custody case or for help with your parenting plan. 

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