If you are no longer married or in a relationship with the other parent of your child, you will need to make many legal decisions regarding time-sharing and visitation. These are the terms that have largely replaced the term “child custody” in Florida, since Florida law sets out that maintaining continuing and frequent contact with both parents is in the best interests of the child unless there is evidence to the contrary. No longer do the courts presume that the mother should automatically have full custody and the courts make this type of determination hoping to uphold both parents’ rights to share in raising their child.
Determining how to share time and legal custody of children is not a simple matter and many parents may consistently argue over specifics of the arrangement. To avoid this, parents who have joint physical and/or legal custody over children must have a parenting plan approved by the courts. It is always preferable for parents to agree to the specifics of a parenting plan and then have the court approve it, as they know their child’s schedule and specific needs firsthand. Unfortunately, in some cases, parents cannot agree on all of the specifics of a parenting plan and the court must intervene and decide for them. No matter who decides the specifics, however, a parenting plan must include certain provisions.
Necessary Provisions in a Parenting Plan
The following are some terms that must be decided upon and put into writing:
- The schedule regarding when a child will physically reside with each parent;
- A specific description about how you will share in raising your child on a daily basis and who will be responsible for specific tasks;
- How the parents will communicate with each other and with the child when they are not physically together, such as text message or calling on the phone;
- Who will make decisions regarding the child’s health care;
- Whose address will be used to determine which school the child will attend and for registration at the school;
- Who will be responsible for extracurricular activities and sports.
In addition to necessary provisions, parents can include other information to make future decisions easier and to avoid conflict. For example, they can decide in advance who will get to take the child on vacation during which time of the year. They can also set out instructions on how they will settle conflicts regarding parenting should they arise. Often, this can keep parents out of court in the future and avoid the cost and stress on themselves and their child of having a court resolve parenting and time-sharing issues.
Contact an Experienced Boca Raton Family Law Attorney for a Consultation
If you are facing a time-sharing and visitation case, you should always have the guidance and representation of an experienced Boca Raton family lawyer. Attorney Alan R. Burton can assist you in coming to a favorable arrangement with only minimal involvement of the courts. Please call our office today at 954-229-1660 for assistance.