Going through a divorce is never easy, particularly when young children are involved. The Florida Supreme Court requires divorcing parents in Florida to agree on a parenting plan that specifies how the parties plan to share time with their children post-divorce, and then submit it to the court for approval. Once the court approves the agreement, both parents are legally obligated to abide by the terms of the agreement.
What should be included in your parenting plan?
Parenting plans will differ from one family to the next, as they depend on the specific needs of the child and each family’s dynamics. However, there are certain things that must be included. In Florida, parenting plans must include:
- Time-sharing schedule specifying when the children will be with each parent
- Responsibilities of each parent relating to the care of the children
- Details regarding communication between the parents and children
- Decision-making arrangements to specify which parent will be making which decisions relating to the child’s upbringing
How do courts decide whether to approve a parenting plan?
When courts evaluate the parenting plan, the best interests of the child will be of the utmost priority. Courts will consider a variety of factors when determining whether the plan should be approved. Some of these factors may include:
- The location and living environments of each parent
- The child’s current living arrangement and whether to maintain continuity
- The capacity and willingness of each parent to care for their children
- The preference of the children (if they are mature enough to express a preference)
- Evidence of domestic violence, drug/alcohol abuse, and/or abandonment or neglect of children
The divorce process is rarely ever easy, particularly if you have children to consider. An effective parenting agreement will ensure that the children are protected and cared for in the best ways possible once the divorce is finalized.