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Panama City Workable Parenting Plan

Establishing Parenting Plans After a Divorce

In the state of Florida, parenting plans are required in all cases involving time sharing with minor children in a divorce, even in cases where the time sharing arrangement is not in dispute.

At the very minimum, a parenting plan must describe in detail:

  • How the parents will share in the responsibility of the daily tasks associated with caring for the children
  • The time-sharing schedule that specifies the time the children will spend with each parent
  • Who will be responsible for school-related matters, health care, and the address to be used for school zoning and registration
  • The methods the parents will use to communicate with the children

Oftentimes the court may appoint a parenting coordinator to help determine the most effective parenting plan.

Determining Factors

In Florida, the best interests of the children are the primary consideration in all parenting plans. When the parenting plan is created all circumstances between the parents, the parent's historical relationship, any history of domestic violence, and any other relevant factors must be taken into consideration. Ultimately, determining the best interests of the children will be made after evaluating all of the factors that affect the safety and wellbeing of the children and the family's unique circumstances.

Factors include:

  • The demonstrated capacity of each parent to encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, and their willingness to honor the time-sharing schedule;
  • The anticipated division of parenting responsibilities including the delegation of responsibilities to third parties;
  • The demonstrated capacity of each parent to act in the best interests of the children as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent;
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable environment and the desirability of maintaining that continuity;
  • The mental and physical health of both parents;
  • The moral character of each parent;
  • The child's ties to their home, school and their community;
  • The reasonable preference of the child;
  • The demonstrated knowledge and capacity of each parent to be informed of the child's friends, their teachers, medical care providers, daily activities and their favorite things;
  • Any evidence of domestic violence, child abuse, child abandonment, sexual violence, or child neglect;
  • The demonstrated capacity of either parent to be involved in the child's school and extracurricular activities; and
  • The developmental stages and needs of the children and the demonstrated capacities of each parent to meet the child's needs.

Every family situation is unique, and one of the most difficult challenges parent face when they separate is how they will address their situation with their children. In any case, putting the children's best interests must come first. Parents are often worried that getting a divorce will destroy their parent-child relationship and this is not true. Parents who are concerned about how their divorce will affect their children's welfare are already ahead of the curve and developing a sound parenting plan will help put their minds at ease and facilitate a health relationship with their children.

The parenting plan should be as detailed as possible in order to address the time-sharing schedule, and the parents should give special consideration to the age and needs of their child. In general, there are four common types of parenting plans in Florida, they include: 1) the Basic Parenting Plan, 2) the Long Distance Parenting Plan, 3) the Safety Focused Parenting Plan, and 4) the Highly Structured Parenting Plan.

In all parenting plans, it's important to remember that children do best when both parents play a meaningful role in their lives. Each parent has a valuable contribution to give to their child, and it's better for children to spend more time with their natural parents, and less time with caregivers. What's more, healthy and pleasant communication between parents is important and children need to be protected from parental conflicts. Lastly, parents need to refrain from making negative remarks about each other since this only creates unpleasant emotions for the child.

Contact a Panama City Child Custody Lawyer

Remember that when you are developing a parenting plan, be honest. Think about your children's ages, their personalities, their likes and dislikes, and their ability to talk to you and the other parent. Every family is different and no two parenting plans are identical. When getting a divorce, parents need to create a parenting plan that works best for their children.

To obtain quality legal assistance creating a parenting plan that is in your children's best interests, please contact a Panama City child custody attorney from the Seaton Law Offices, P.A. today!

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