Divorce is a complicated process. Child custody is often the most challenging part of a divorce. You might have a laundry list of questions, with some likely involving unfamiliar legal terms. For example: What is a parenting plan, and how do you create one that safeguards your children’s interests?
At the O’Mara Law Group, we help Florida families navigate the confusing and stressful landscape of divorce and custody. Our skilled attorneys are your advocates in and out of court, helping you create the right parenting plan for your family. We work with you to understand what you and your children need from the court. We then use that information to craft a parenting plan that puts your children first.
What Is a Parenting Plan?
A parenting plan is an arrangement required by Florida courts for child custody. The plan specifies each parent’s rights and responsibilities regarding child-raising and how time is spent with their children, including:
Details are essential because the plan establishes expectations for parenting decisions. Any gray areas or unaddressed circumstances open the door for future conflict.
For example, suppose a couple has previously agreed on joint custody, but one parent now believes they should have full custody. If the parenting plan establishes a joint arrangement, the disputing parent must abide by that decision.
At O’Mara Law Group, our experienced and skilled attorneys understand a successful parenting plan’s makeup. Let us ensure you meet all Florida state requirements.
Florida Parenting Plan Requirements
Florida state policy is to ensure children have “frequent and continuing contact” with both parents after separation or divorce. Similarly, the state prefers both parents to share child-raising rights and responsibilities, assuming such an arrangement is safe for the child.
A documented parenting plan helps the court meet the state’s goals. A court will only approve a parenting plan if it addresses, at minimum, the following matters:
Parents also must complete and submit a Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act affidavit to the court. This document, also called Form 12.902(d), includes basic information about each child’s name, birthplace, birthdate, sex, and recent home locations.
The affidavit also requires parents to testify whether they are involved in any other custody decisions affecting the child. This information is essential for the court to make fully informed, child-centered decisions.
Importance of Parenting Plans for Child Custody Agreements
Divorce, even when amicable, significantly disrupts children’s lives. Changes that seem minor to adults can feel significant to children who rely on their parents to handle things smoothly.
Naturally, divorcing parents also feel their own stress from the upheaval. Parenting plans provide a helpful roadmap for parents by identifying key decisions that must be made to promote the child’s best interests.
The finalized parenting plan guides the family’s members through a post-divorce life. It establishes expectations for anticipated and unanticipated issues, reducing the likelihood of future conflicts and legal action.
The parenting plan also serves as legal documentation if either parent disputes a decision. Both parents must sign the final plan, which becomes binding unless one parent requests a modification.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Create a Parenting Plan?
Florida law does not require you to have professional representation in family court. Some parents choose to represent themselves—an arrangement that the courts call Pro Se.
Although legal, this arrangement presents a significant risk to parties creating a parenting plan. Florida courts prefer couples to create a parenting plan together and present a draft to the court. If the parents cannot agree, the court will develop a binding plan.
In either case, you need a skilled divorce attorney to protect your interests. The experienced team at the O’Mara Law Firm will walk you through every step of the parenting plan so that nothing gets past you.
We’ll also ensure you understand your decision’s implications. When your children are involved, every detail is important.
Can You Modify a Parenting Plan Without Going to Court?
All changes to a parenting plan in Florida require a hearing and proof of changed circumstances. This process is designed to protect you and your children and promote stability after a divorce.
Parenting plans are long-term by design, but Florida courts understand that families’ needs can change. You may apply to modify your parenting plan by petitioning the court. The other party should respond, and you must attend a court hearing.
Custody modification can happen in one of three ways:
The other parent also has the right to apply for modification if circumstances change significantly. The court system requires significant differences in the family situation to consider revision.
The O’Mara Law Firm will help you apply to modify any aspect of your parenting plan, from child visitation schedules to decision-making authority. We’ll work together to develop an argument that reflects your family’s unique needs and protects your child’s well-being.
An Orlando Child Custody Attorney From the O'Mara Law Group Can Help With Your Parenting Plan
At the O’Mara Law Group, you and your children come first. We’re committed to presenting your case before family courts so that your wishes reflect your child’s best interests.
Each skilled child custody lawyer on our team knows how to navigate the emotionally loaded custody negotiation process. We have been helping families through custody disputes in and out of court for over 35 years. We can represent you in a positive light, even under challenging scenarios involving abuse or false allegations.
We consider ourselves guides as well as knowledgeable, professional counsel. We’re here to answer any questions about parenting plans and how you can create the right one for your children.
Get the peace of mind you and your children deserve. Schedule a consultation today, and let us stand at your side.