WHAT IS A PARENTING PLAN?
Most people by now have heard the term Parenting Plan, though you might still hear terms like “custody” and “visitation” thrown around. Technically, the legal system in Florida no longer uses those terms. We finally figured out that using terms like “majority custody” and “visitation” sounds like one parent has possession of the child and the other parent only gets to “visit.” That’s certainly not in the best interest of the child, who deserves to have two active, engaged parents whether they are still married or not. So, the legislature made a policy change based on the idea that no one possesses children, and visiting is for Disney World, not parents.
WHAT IS “TIME-SHARING”?
Florida statutes use the term time-sharing to describe what each parent does with a child: exercises time. A Parenting Plan is a document that describes in detail how the parents will share and be responsible for the daily tasks associated with the upbringing of the child(ren), to include a time-sharing schedule that specifies the time that the minor child(ren) will spend with each parent, on a daily basis as well as holiday times. A school boundary determination is required to be in a Parenting Plan, and it must describe the methods and technologies that the parents will use to communicate with the child(ren).
WHICH PARENT GETS TO MAKE MAJOR DECISIONS ABOUT OUR CHILDREN?
A Parenting Plan also designates who will be responsible for making decisions for the children in the areas of religion, health care, and education. Most of the time, absent evidence of really bad past decision-making, decisions will be made jointly between the parties, both parents consulting on what is best for their child. Some states call this “joint legal custody,” but Florida calls it Shared Parental Responsibility. We don’t have physical custody either. We have time-sharing, Parenting Plans, and we have Shared Parental Responsibility and that’s all the types of “custody” we have in Florida.
WHAT IF I WANT FULL CUSTODY OF MY CHILDREN?
Our favorite thing to ask clients who tell us they want “full custody,” is to ask them what they think that means, because it’s not a legal term. They usually say, “oh, I just want to make sure I have the child living at my house most of the time.” That’s majority time-sharing or, possibly, that you maintain the child’s primary residence, but in this day and age, absent extenuating circumstances, most children spend copious time with both parents. It may feel a little nomadic, but as long as both homes have all the clothes, toys, games, and love that a kid could ever need, we find that the children rebound a little easier than you will when their parents split up.
The lawyers at Sasso & Guerrero are here to help you draft that Parenting Plan, talk over schedule options, negotiate with the other parent, and if it comes to it, advocate to the judge what your Parenting Plan should be. You’ll get there. We promise.