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Orlando Parenting Plans Lawyer

A parenting plan is a document required by the court in two types of scenarios: a married couple with children in common are going through a divorce, or an unmarried couple has children together and one of the parents has asked the court to establish child custody or child support. The purpose of the parenting plan is to detail the issues involving the children and the resolution reached on all of those issues. The best interest of the children must always be the primary consideration when creating a parenting plan. Once a parenting plan is completed, it will be signed by both parents and filed with the court. A court order will then be granted by the judge, at which point the parenting plan will become legally binding and enforceable. A parenting plan is intended to determine how the parents will care for the children from the date the parenting plan is entered into all the way until the children reach age 18 and graduate from high school. This is to reduce the likelihood the parents will have to return to court to make changes to the parenting plan in the future. A parenting plan can be modified, but doing so requires going back to court. This is why a thorough and complete parenting plan is important.

What does a Parenting Plan Address?

Parenting plans will address in the outset some basic facts, including who the parents are, the children and their dates of birth, the grounds for the court to have jurisdiction, while every situation involving children is unique, parenting plans will address the same general issues faced by most families. Some of these issues include:

  • a time-sharing schedule,
  • holidays and school breaks,
  • where the children will attend school
  • notice and information required to be shared if either parent plans to leave the state or country with the child,
  • plans for transporting the children for exchanges
  • child support,
  • health insurance,
  • out-of-pocket medical, dental, and educational expenses
  • the sharing of information regarding the children between the parents, including access to medical and educational records,
  • communications between the parents and between each parent and the children,
  • extracurricular activities,
  • parental responsibility and decision-making authority,
  • any special needs the children may have and how those needs will be addressed

There will be shared parental responsibility in most cases unless extreme circumstances exist. Shared parental responsibility means discussing and agreeing to major decisions that affect the children. Major decisions include, but are not limited to the children's education, medical care, and religion. Day-to-day decisions, such as if a child can go over to a friend's house for a few hours is not a major decision. A good way to look at shared parental responsibility is that if you and the other parent were still together, would you consult with them about this particular issue before deciding?

An example of how detailed a parenting plan should be is arranging the transportation of the children to and from each parent. For the pick-up and drop off of the children, the parenting plan will typically specify who is supposed to be picking them up and dropping them off, where the pick-up and drop off location(s) will be, and who will pay the transportation costs. This will be unique to each family and may be more or less detailed depending on the circumstances involved. Sometimes parents have children who are able to drive and will drive themselves to each parent's house. Sometimes parents will live in different states, so the children are required to fly back and forth. Sometimes the parents will live five minutes from each other so the parents will just drop off and pick-up the children at each other's home.

Another important topic that is discussed in the parenting plan is providing health insurance for the children and who will be responsible for any out-of-pocket medical bills. Typically, if one parent has been providing health insurance for the children through their employer, they will continue to do so unless they are no longer able to, it has become more expensive, it is cheaper for the other parent to provide the health insurance, or the parties agree to choose one available health insurance over another. The parent providing the health insurance will either receive a reduction in their child support obligation if they are the payor or an increase in their child support if they are the payee. It is important to have a skilled family law attorney who knows how to reduce or increase child support to account for providing health insurance. For out-of-pocket medical bills, sometimes the parents will split the cost 50/50, sometimes it will be split proportionately to the parents' incomes, or sometimes one parent will agree to be responsible for the out-of-pocket medical bills possibly as a reduction on child support. Planning for unexpected, out of pocket expenses in advance is one critical aspect of a parenting plan that will help keep both parents out of court in the future if any medical bills for the children should arise.

Many parenting plans will specify what the parents need to do to travel with the children outside the state or the country. This is an example of an issue that could easily be missed when designing a parenting plan without an experienced family law attorney, particularly when neither parent travels outside of the state with the children on a frequent basis or has no immediate plans to do so. The parenting plan will usually state how many days in advance the traveling parent will need to give the other parent. Typically, the traveling parent will need to give the other parent seven to fifteen days advanced notice of the travel plans. In most circumstances, the traveling parent does not need to get consent from the other parent if they will be traveling when they usually have the child with them according to the time-sharing schedule, but they will usually need to let the parent know where the child is going, who the child is staying with, how long the child will be gone for, and any contact information to be able to reach the child or other parent while they are gone. The does not normally include giving the other parent an exact itinerary of where the child will be at all times.

Contact Us Now for Your Free Consultation

At My Florida Family Attorney, Adams & Luka, P.A., our family law attorneys have extensive experience with drafting parenting plans for all different types of situations. Our experience and dedication will allow us to identify all of the necessary issues that should be included in your parenting plan as well as level of detail needed to ensure the parenting plan is effective, clear, and unambiguous. Whether you need a parenting plan for a divorce involving children, paternity case, or time-sharing and child support cases, our family attorneys will listen to your needs, ask the right questions, and fight for your rights every step of the way to achieve a final product that you are satisfied with. Contact us today for your free consultation at 407-872-0303 or 352-357-4084.