Parenting plans, when used as a legal term, refer to contracts between parents regarding the care of their children. It is required in order for a court to authorize a divorce or final judgment in a paternity action. When parents do not agree to a parenting plan, the court will order a parenting plan for them. It will be based on their experience with, and knowledge of, the parents (which is limited to the time they are in court). Parenting plans are also referred to as “custody agreements”, although Florida does not utilize the term “custody” anywhere in the statutes (chapter 61). Parenting plans typically address all issues dealing with every aspects of the children’s lives. Plans range from weekly time-sharing arrangements to who does what if the child is home sick from school. Some parents use the parenting plan as a bible. Other parents use it as a plan “B” in case they cannot agree on issues related to raising the children.
Deciding What’s Best For Your Child
Most parents believe that when a child becomes a certain age the courts will want to know where he, or she desire to reside. In Florida, the children do not make those decisions, the parents do. Specifically, in Orange County this preference is not given very much weight just on its own. Guardian Ad Litems (legal representatives) can be appointed to assist the court in determining what the best time-sharing arrangement would be in a specific case. The Guardian is not to report only on what the child wants, but also on their opinion. After investigation and interviews on the case, they will decide what is best for the child. Most courts prefer that the parents themselves, with or without the help of an attorney, agree upon a parenting plan. The reasoning is that parents clearly know what is best for their individual family. However, when the parties cannot agree, the ultimate decision will be made by the Court as to what the best time-sharing arrangement is after hearing testimony and reviewing evidence.
At Schwam-Wilcox & Associates we can assist in the role of attorney or guardian at litem to assist in facilitating a parenting plan for your family.