When making child custody decisions, there is a lot to consider. There is much more to negotiate than simply where the child will live.
Luckily, if you live in Florida, the state uses a highly detailed parenting plan. It covers many factors of co-parenting, leaving almost nothing out.
Here are just some of the items you will find in Florida’s parenting plan.
Visiting and Joint Custody Schedule
First, you must figure out your schedule. Presumably, each parent will want time with the children. Making that work involves direct, clear instructions.
Florida’s plan details which days a parent will possess or visit the children, including pick-up and drop-off times. It specifically assigns travel tasks to parents as well.
Using the plan, you can even schedule electronic visits like phone calls or video chats. The law takes these visits as seriously as any in-person visit. If the other parent attempts to block them, they could face penalties.
The plan accounts for holidays as well, and it gives you many options. For instance, parents can assign major holidays to one another. One parent can have the kids every Thanksgiving, and the other gets them for Christmas. You can also swap, getting the kids for Thanksgiving one year, Christmas the next, and so on. One parent can get them for both holidays one year, and the other gets them the next. The combinations are limited only by your needs.
The plan also accounts for floating holidays. Mother’s Day, for example, doesn’t fall on the same date every year. In the plan, you can decide that the mother (or father) always has the kids on designated days like these. You can also keep the plan rigid, making sure that the kids always follow the same weekend schedule regardless of special days that come and go.
In Florida’s parenting plan, you can give decision-making authority to parents. One can handle healthcare while the other manages education. Perhaps one parent has both responsibilities. You can give each parent equal decision-making power over a matter, or you can give them final-say authority. Once again, the plan is structured to allow for a myriad of possibilities.
If one parent fails to meet their part of the parenting plan, you don’t have to take the matter directly to court. You can build immediate penalties into the plan. Once placed, these punishments must be obeyed, or a parent could be subject to further legal trouble.
How to Negotiate the Parenting Plan
Florida’s plan is specific enough that divorcing couples can go through it together, fill it out completely, and submit it directly to the court. If your relationship is amicable enough, this is a legitimate option. Even after you finish the form, you should let an attorney look it over for any mistakes or areas that may not work.
Many, however, may find that they need help. After all, they are getting divorced for a reason. Mediation may be a useful option for them. This process allows spouses to meet with a neutral third party who can help them negotiate the details of their parenting plan or any other portion of their divorce.
For those who cannot communicate, going to court may be the only option. The court will listen to both parents’ needs and concerns, and it will make the parenting decisions for them. This may be difficult for many people. At least you can rest assured that the court is operating in the best interests of the children. Even if you aren’t completely happy with the results, your kids should be treated well by the plan.
Our firm can help if you have concerns about co-parenting after your divorce. For a free consultation, schedule time with us online. You can also call us at (407) 753-4111.