Florida law requires the creation of a Parenting Plan for all children subject to a dissolution of marriage (divorce) action. Parenting Plans are designed to reflect the modern-day challenges and circumstances facing parents and minor children before, during, and after a dissolution of marriage (divorce).
Parenting Plans address the details of how the parents will share in the decision-making responsibilities for both major decisions and the day-to-day tasks involved in raising children. Parenting Plans also articulate the regular, holiday and break schedules for the time the children will spend with each parent.
Parenting Plans encompass issues including, but not limited to, the address to be used for school registration and boundary determination, and methods and technologies for communicating with the children.
In approving a Parenting Plan, a court must make a determination of what is in the best interest of the child. Among the twenty (20) factors to be considered by the court are:
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
- The geographic viability of the Parenting Plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the Parenting Plan.
- The moral fitness of the parents.
- The mental and physical health of the parents.
- The child’s home, school and community record.
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding and experience to express a preference.
- Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment or child neglect, the court must specifically acknowledge in writing that such evidence was considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.
There are additional factors and considerations to be made by the court in approving a Parenting Plan. The above are just a few examples of those considerations. The more closely and cooperatively the two parents can work through the issues and consider the primary goal of doing what is in the best interest of the children, the easier the dissolution of marriage (divorce) process will be for the entire family.