This article will outline what the general requirements are for a parenting plan.
First, the parenting plan must describe in adequate detail how the parents will share and be responsible for the daily tasks with the child or children.
Second, the plan must include a detailed time-sharing schedule. The time-sharing schedule is what most people are referring to when they refer to “custody.” In Florida, we no longer use the word “custody” as it pertains to time spent with the children.
Third, the parenting plan has to specify who will be responsible for: health care; school issues and other activities.
Fourth, the parenting plan must describe in adequate detail what communication technologies will be used by the parents to communicate with their child or children when they are not with a parent.
Parenting plans must also specify if the parents have shared parental responsibility or if one or the other parent has sole decision making or ultimate decision on issues such as education, medical decisions or extra-curricular activities. In addition, if the family has special needs or unique issues apply to the family, the parenting plan can address those issues as well. If the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan on their own or through the process of mediation, then the court will decide what the parenting plan will be.
In fashioning the parenting plan, the court has to look at 20 factors which are listed in Section 61.13, Florida Statutes. However, as of July 2023 the Court begins with the presumption that equal timesharing is in the best interest of a child or children.
Therefore, in order to overcome the equal timesharing presumption in a parenting plan, a parent would need to demonstrate that equal timesharing was not in the child or children’s best interest. Prior to July 2023 there was no presumption for or against any particular parenting plan. Each case was treated uniquely.
Now that there is a presumption in favor of equal timesharing, evidence that equal timesharing is not in the child or children’s best interest must be gathered prior to mediation or a trial in front of a judge.