Parenting Plans and Child Custody


If you are in the middle of a divorce or are separating from your child’s other parent, Florida law requires that you and the other party create a parenting plan which details how you plan to cooperatively raise your child.  Even if you and the other parent agree on a time-sharing schedule and the terms of a plan, you still must have court approval. Florida Statute 61.13 details the specific requirements that every plan must meet and explains how a court will assess the suitability of any proposed arrangement.  In order to ensure that the strict legal standards are fulfilled and that you obtain the best possible result for you and your child, it is advisable to have a competent child custody lawyer at your side, assisting you every step of the way.  

Florida law does not use the terms “legal custody” or “physical custody.”  Instead, Florida Statute 61.13 requires parents to come up with a parenting plan, and the statute sets out the minimum standards for these plans.  They must include how parents will share in the handling of the various daily tasks associated with raising the child; a time-sharing schedule that establishes how the child’s time will be spent with each parent; a decision as to which parent will take care of health care, school matters, including which address is to be used for school boundary purposes, and other activities; and the methods by which the parents will communicate with the children.

The law establishes a presumption that it is in the best interest of a child to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents who share in the child-rearing.  The best interests of the child is the standard by which all decisions regarding custody and support are measured. The statute outlines twenty factors that a court will consider in its decision whether to approve a plan. Although the norm is that the court will order shared parental responsibility, a court may award sole parental responsibility if evidence of domestic violence or child abuse is presented with respect to a parent.  In addition, a criminal conviction of crimes involving violence or abuse creates a rebuttable presumption that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child.  

The establishment of a workable parenting plan is critical to the success of raising your child in the manner you believe is best.  In order to obtain court approval, it is necessary to present your plan in the best possible manner in light of the many factors the court is required to consider.  The Gainesville Child Custody Attorneys at The Law Office of Silverman, Vorhis & Mack have handled hundreds of child custody cases and are fully able to make this sometimes difficult process as easy as possible.  Please call us for a consultation locally at 352-337-8373, or toll free at 866-663-4902. You can also contact us on our website.