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What a Florida Parenting Plan is and how to draft one

In the state of Florida, all parents who wish to share custody or enjoy visitation with their child are required to draft a Parenting Plan. This declaration, known as Family Law Form 12.995(a) was approved by the Florida Supreme Court in November of 2015.

The child's biological parents are required to fill this document out regardless of whether their time-sharing request is in dispute or not. It must ultimately be approved by the family court judge before it is deemed to be enforceable. In cases in which the parents are unable to reach an agreement or it's not upheld by the court, a judge may impose his or her own Parenting Plan.

In drafting the Parenting Plan, parents will need to clearly define their plan as it relates to the day-to-day raising of their children. Parents will need to describe how time will scheduled so both can spend time with the child as well.

Parents will also need to clearly define which of them will be responsible for the child's health care and schooling. Whichever parent chooses to take on this responsibility will have their address used for school zoning purposes.

Also, as part of this agreement, parents will be required to clearly establish the methods of communication and technological preferences they have for engaging with their children.

Even in instances in which both parents are in agreement over the Parenting Plan, family law judges exercise the right to impose modifications when they deem it to be in the best interest of the children. Under Florida Statutes section 61.13(3), potential factors that may propel a judge to modify an agreement include instances in which there's a volatile relationship between parents themselves or the parent and child. A history of domestic violence may result in a modification as well.

Reaching a custody agreement with your child's other parent in a situation in which the two of you don't see eye-to-eye can be difficult. As a result, it may be necessary for you to pursue child custody mediation to work your problems out. If you're looking to have a Parenting Plan crafted that will have a stronger potential for being approved by the family court judge in your case, then you might find that the guidance a Fort Myers child custody attorney can help you accomplish that.

Source: FLcourts.org, "Instructions for Florida Supreme Court approved family law form 12.995(a), parenting plan," accessed May 26, 2017

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