In divorce cases, a parenting plan will be established as part of the proceedings, to outline each parent’s responsibilities and decision-making authority for the children, the children’s timesharing schedules, and the children’s rights in developing and fostering their relationships with each parent, as well as a number of other pertinent details that will impact the children’s lives. Unfortunately, if not appropriately determined, the disputes regarding the terms of a parenting plan can quickly turn into conflict down the road. In this article, Matthew Cambó, Esq. shares tips on how adding more specifics to your parenting plan can help to minimize possible conflict in the future.
“In Florida, a parenting plan is required in every case that establishes each parent’s access, visitation, and parental rights for their children. This is required even when the parents do not wish to enter a formal agreement, as Florida courts are charged with ensuring the best interests of minor children are served,” said Matthew.
While these parenting plans are required by law in Florida divorces, delineate certain terms that must be included, there are countless details that may be included but are not required, which will help minimize conflict.
Here are some tips on terms and provisions that should be included in a parenting plan to help minimize parental disputes, reduce the stress and animosity generated by the persistent conflict, and benefit your children in the long run.
When establishing a timesharing schedule for the children, parents should strive to maintain as much continuity and stability in the children’s pre-litigation schedules as possible. Changes to the children’s schedules are inevitable to accommodate two parents who will be leading independent lives moving forward, but those changes should not be made to the detriment of the children, just to convenience the parents.
Parents should make sure to include in their timesharing schedule the specific details of how, when, and where timesharing exchanges for the kids will occur. For example, who will be responsible for dropping off or picking up the kids on any given day, or what happens when the children must be exchanged when there is no school?
Holidays and vacations are some of the most common subjects of parental disputes. A good parenting plan will not only detail who the children will spend each holiday within any given year, it will address travel and vacation considerations or provide some flexibility to accommodate special events for both families.
Communications Between Parents
Communication is crucial for parents to appropriately co-parent. There are many parents who have demonstrated an inability to speak cordially with each other over the phone or in person. Other parents have persistent issues with responding to written communications from the other parent. Some parents are consistently unresponsive. Other parents inundate the other parent with unnecessary communications. All parents have different views on the reasonableness and appropriateness of their communications with their counterparts. A good parenting plan will contain specific parameters and details regarding how, when, and what may be communicated to the other parent. Provisions that regulate communications between parents based on the unique communication issues that exist between them will help mitigate the recurrence of these issues.
Separated parents, who experience co-parenting issues regularly, will often reach an impasse on major decisions concerning the children’s health, education, extra-curricular activities, and welfare, which requires judicial intervention to resolve if the parents cannot reconcile on their own. Parents should consider including a provision in their parenting plan that provides for a procedure to assist in resolving these decisional impasses, such as meeting with a parenting coordinator or attending mediation with legal professionals who can advise them accordingly. If you can anticipate disputes arising over specific major decisions in the future (e.g. choice of schools, participation in certain activities, etc.), it is best to specifically address them in your parenting plan or as soon as foresee them, so you can avoid having to seek emergency relief from the Court or being placed in a predicament where a decision is not reached before the disputed issue comes to pass.
There will, of course, be occasions when temporary changes to the parenting plan become necessary. A parent may be unable to exercise timesharing on a given occasion because of work commitments. A parent may need to modify travel plans through no fault of their own, or perhaps, the children will create a situation that requires immediate accommodations. How will these situations be handled without considerable friction? A detailed parenting plan should contain parameters and procedures to address these emergencies in a timely and efficient fashion, while also providing for default alternative resolutions in case the other parent does not respond in time.
About Matthew Cambó, Esq.
Matthew Cambó is an associate attorney with Leinoff & Lemos, P.A. He has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America 2022 due to his exceptional focus on serving clients in family law matters. Mr. Cambó has a degree in Political Science from the Pennsylvania State University and a J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law. He is licensed to practice in Florida and is a member of the Family Law and Young Lawyers sections of the Florida Bar.