Creating a parenting plan can be complicated. Not only do you have to reach an agreement with your ex-spouse, but you must also take into account school calendars, extracurriculars, and holidays all while grappling with the divorce.
Below are some important details to include in your parenting plan and encouragement for parents struggling during this emotional time.
Parental Responsibility and Time-Sharing
Florida law prioritizes the child’s wellbeing above all else. This means that the judge presiding over your case will make their final decision based on the best possible arrangement for the child. It’s important to note that Florida doesn’t have custody. Instead, rather parenting plans determine how much time the child spends with each parent and how the parents will co-parent and make decisions affecting the child(ren).
Parenting roles are either shared or belong to one parent exclusively. Shared parental responsibility means that you and your ex-spouse will have equal decision-making power, whereas sole parental responsibility belongs to one parent.
When a parent has sole responsibility, they can make medical, educational, and religious decisions on behalf of their child. The other parent may not have any parenting time or spend time with their child under strict supervision.
In rare cases, the court may award shared parental responsibility with one parent having more decision-making power than the other. Ultimately, the judge is responsible for making the final decision regarding parenting time and parental responsibilities.
Parenting Plans: Getting Started
An official parenting plan is simply a document outlining roles and responsibilities and a schedule for quality time. The most challenging part of the planning process is navigating the logistics while working together with your former spouse.
The final plan must be comprehensive, which means it must take into account a number of factors that could impact the child’s wellbeing, your and your former spouse’s finances, and activities.
You should discuss the following when drafting a parenting plan:
- School schedules
- Extracurricular activities, practices, etc.
- Information access
- Financial responsibilities
- Attendance at important events and performances
The most important factor in any parenting plan is communication. Out of all the things listed above, communication, or the lack thereof, can make or break the plan. You must be willing and able to maintain consistent contact with the child and ex-spouse when necessary. Both of you will also need to discuss how you plan on sharing important documents and records in addition to what you would do if the child’s safety is at risk.
Communication is of the utmost importance, but in some cases, opening the doors to communication with a former spouse may be difficult or a safety issue. If this is the case for you, speak with an attorney and be open about the situation. Lawyers are familiar with the law and can advocate for you to the judge.
You’ve Got This
Creating a parenting plan is no easy task, and you are probably feeling frustrated, confused, or upset over the future and taking care of your child going forward. This is completely normal. You aren’t a bad person for getting frustrated by family court proceedings, and you’re definitely not a bad person for getting a divorce.
Families offer the most vital connections on the planet, and each family has its own unique routines and deeply personal traditions. Because of this, divorce is often just as complicated. However, the important thing to remember is that the ties that bind you with your children are powerful.
Your protectiveness and love for your child are crucial in their development and identity, which is why parenting plans are so important. Being able to continue having a healthy relationship with your child helps them have peace of mind.
If you need legal support during this process, don’t hesitate to contact Cavanaugh & Cavanaugh, P.A. Our family lawyers in Florida offer guidance and legal counsel during the planning process.