Parenting Plans, Time-Sharing and Custody in Divorce

Some people may be used to the term “custody” or “visitation,” but in the State of Florida the proper legal term is “time-sharing.”  Divorce is a difficult process for everyone and the health and well-being of the children during and after divorce are an important aspect of the process.  Florida requires that couples divorcing must either agree to a time-sharing plan or one will be determined for them by the court.

The purpose of the parenting plan is to divide responsibilities, tasks, communication and the time each parent spends with the child(ren) into a written plan.  A parenting plan can be agreed to prior to the divorce or at any time during the process.  The parenting plan can often be modified later if there are unforeseen changes in the parent’s or child’s circumstances.

The Florida Supreme Court has a Parenting Plan form 12.995 (links are on the right side of this page) that provides a good outline and format for a parenting plan which will be accepted by courts in Florida.  Sometimes each party in a divorce will submit their own proposed plan and other times they will cooperatively work together to develop one jointly.  Keep in mind that although this form is widely used, the form itself is not required.  Parents are free to develop a parenting plan that uniquely addresses the needs of the parents and children as long as the required elements are addressed.

Common Parenting Plan Considerations For Divorce

  • Does either parent have a unique work schedule (other than 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday)?
  • What do the parents anticipate will be the geographic distance between their homes after the divorce?
  • How old are the children and what level of autonomy will you give them?
  • Do any of the children have any special needs?
  • What schedule as it relates to holidays and summer is best for the children where both parents get reasonable time?  Are the children on the same vacation schedule?
  • Who is going to make decisions about the children’s activities, medical care or discretionary expenses?
  • Who is going to pay for the children’s school, clothing, activities, and uncovered medical expenses?

A Good Parenting Plan Is Important For Long-Term Success

Every family is unique and a parenting plan should reflect the unique circumstances of that family.  The parenting plan is one of the most important documents a couple will create in the divorce process because it will provide the framework for all issues related to parenting of the children until they become adults.  Parenting plans can be changed later, but we usually recommended that parents spend extra time during the divorce process to ensure the plan they develop now can last as long as possible and account for as many circumstances as can be imagined.  The extra effort in creating a strong parenting plan can save the parents legal fees, hard feelings and disappointed children later.

This is also a key document where an experienced divorce attorney or mental health professional can be very helpful. Often it is the things that are left out of a parenting plan that sometimes are the most critical down the road.  An experienced attorney or mental health professional who works with divorce and family law cases regularly will recognize many of these pitfalls and incorporate them into the parenting plan.

Additional Information and References

We have put links to Florida Supreme Court approved parenting plan templates on the right side of the page along with other additional information to consider.

If We Can Help…

We have worked with families of all sizes and needs. Parenting plans can be structured simply or creatively to address special needs of the family. While it takes a little extra effort to think through and resolve potential future issues now, we feel it is well worth the time! If you would like experienced advice for your divorce matter or creating a parenting plan, please contact us to set a consultation. In order to provide you with well-rounded and comprehensive advice, you will need to discuss your entire matter in detail with one of our attorneys who can then help you put together a plan to resolve your matter and build an appropriate parenting plan.