What exactly is a parenting plan?
A “parenting plan” is a document that defines each parent’s role in making decisions about their child’s education, health care, and physical, social, and emotional well-being. The parenting plan must include the following elements:
- a detailed description of how the parents will share responsibility for the daily tasks associated with raising the child;
- a time-sharing schedule (with specific information about the time that the child will spend with each parent);
- a description of the methods and technologies that the parents will use to communicate with the child (such as email, phone, etc.);
- specify who will be in charge of:
- any and all forms of health care; (Note: If the judge orders shared parental responsibility for health care decisions, the parenting plan must state that either parent may consent to mental health treatment for the child);
- school-related issues, such as which address should be used to determine the child’s school registration; and
- o other activities.
The relationship between the parents, any history of domestic violence, and other relevant factors must all be considered when developing the plan. A parenting plan can be created, agreed upon by the parents, and approved by the court. However, if the judge does not agree with the parents’ plan or if the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, he or she may decide to create his or her own. The judge will create the parenting plan in these cases after hearing evidence and testimony from both parents.
61.13(2) of the Florida Statutes (b)
F.S.A. 61.046 (13)
What exactly does parental responsibility entail? Is it the same as having custody?
In Florida, the term “custody” is no longer used by the courts. In contrast to previous cases, neither party will be “awarded custody.” Instead, the courts will assign “parental responsibility” for the children, either shared or sole, and will establish a timesharing schedule. The responsibility for raising a child ends when the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school – by age 19.
What is the definition of sole parental responsibility (sole custody)?
When one parent makes decisions about the child without consulting the other parent, this is referred to as sole parental responsibility.
- This includes both minor decisions that must be made on a daily basis (such as the child’s bedtime) and all major decisions (i.e., the school the child attends).
- If the judge determines that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child, sole parental responsibility will be assigned to one parent.
- The court will consider evidence of domestic violence or child abuse, neglect, or abandonment when deciding what is harmful to the child. In those cases, the judge will make time-sharing arrangements that will best protect the child or abused spouse from further harm, which may include no time-sharing at all.
F.S.A. 61.046 (17)
61.13(2)(c) of the Florida Statutes (2)
What is the definition of shared parental responsibility (joint custody)?
When both parents have full parental rights and responsibilities for their child, this is referred to as shared parental responsibility. The parents must communicate with one another and make decisions about their child’s welfare together (including primary residence, education, religion, medical and dental care).
- As a result, if there is domestic violence and the abuser has power and control, this type of shared parental responsibility is unlikely to be a good option.
- Unless the judge determines that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child, the judge will order shared parental responsibility.
- Any evidence of domestic violence or child abuse (even if there is no criminal conviction and/or injunction for protection from domestic violence) will be considered by the judge as evidence of child harm.
- The court may consider the parents’ wishes and may assign ultimate responsibility for specific aspects of the child’s welfare to one parent or may divide the responsibilities between the parents.
F.S.A. 61.046 (16)
61.13(2)(c) of the Florida Statutes
What exactly is a time-sharing plan?
A “time-sharing schedule” is a timetable that must be included in the parenting plan that specifies when the child will spend time with each parent (including overnights and holidays).
It can be created by the parents, agreed upon by them, and approved by the court.
If the parents are unable to reach an agreement, the court will create a schedule after both parents present testimony and evidence.
61.046 F.S.A. (22)
Should I file a court petition to request supervised visitation?
If you are concerned about the abuser being alone with your child, you may want to consider asking the judge to order that visits with your child be supervised. If you are already in court because the abuser has requested visitation or custody, you may not have much to lose by requesting that the visits be supervised if you can provide a valid reason for your request (although this may depend on your situation).
If there is no current court case, please seek legal counsel BEFORE filing a court case to request supervised visits. We strongly advise you to consult with a custody attorney to determine what you would need to prove in order to have the visits supervised and how long the supervised visits would last, based on the facts of your case.
In most cases, supervised visits are only a temporary solution. Although the exact visitation order will differ depending on the state, county, or judge, the judge may order a professional to observe the other parent on a certain number of visits, or the visits may be supervised by a relative for a certain amount of time. If there are no obvious problems, the visits may likely become unsupervised. Often, at the conclusion of a case, the other parent receives more frequent and/or longer visits than he/she did before you went to court or even some form of custody.
In some cases, starting a case to ask for custody and supervised visits is appropriate to protect your child from immediate danger by the abuser. Please seek legal advice from Brandon Legal Group’s Family Law Attorneys to determine what is the best custody strategy in your situation.
Brandon Legal Group
1209 Lakeside Drive
Brandon FL, 33510