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What is a parenting plan?

As Florida parents deal with the impact of divorce, they may be concerned about the effect on their children. Although a dissolution of marriage terminates a relationship between two spouses, it does not terminate a parent's relationship with a child. A parenting plan is designed to cultivate parent-child relationships in light of the change in family dynamics.

Florida law notes that both parents are responsible for promoting a positive relationship between the other parent and a child. This includes allowing appropriate access and contact. The creation of a parenting plan formalizes details for sharing time with a child. In addition to creating time-sharing schedules, a parenting plan designates responsibilities for educational decisions and similar issues.

As a court reviews a plan, it considers the best interest of a child. Factors to be considered include geographic issues, the health and fitness of parents, a child's record in school and the community, the ability of each parent to promote a continuing relationship between the other parent and the child, and a child's preference if the young person is able to express one. Domestic violence and child abuse issues may play a role in the court's decisions, including issues of false accusations. Parents are able to develop their own parenting plans, but these are subject to the approval of the court. There are community resources to consider in working out a plan, and the state also requires attendance at a parenting class to learn about the impact divorce may have on children.

A family lawyer may be helpful in developing or modifying parenting plan details. Working through these concerns with a lawyer may allow for arrival at terms that meet the needs of a child while addressing interests and concerns of the parent.

Source: The Florida Bar , "Children and Divorce", October 14, 2014

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