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A Guide to Parenting Plans


When co-parenting with a partner, it’s vital that both parties’ parental rights are protected and that the child’s best interest is considered when determining custody. That’s why parenting plans, or custodial agreements, are an essential part of the co-parenting process. Parenting plans ensure both parties are on the same page and that there is no question of how a child splits time between parents and the responsibilities each parent has. Since parenting plans are customized for each situation, it’s essential to understand your goal when crafting one with your partner. Here is our guide to parenting plans from our experienced family law attorneys.

 What are parenting plans? 

A parenting plan is a written agreement between partners or co-parents that defines the amount of time children spend with each parent and lists their responsibilities. Every plan is different, but these responsibilities may include who will be in charge of paying for healthcare, taking children to and from extracurricular activities, and other shared responsibilities.

Who needs a parenting plan? 

Types of situations that require parenting plans vary by state. In Florida, parenting plans are required in any court proceeding involving the two parents sharing time with a child, regardless of marital status.  Common situations that involve parenting plans are paternity cases, divorce proceedings and proceedings for support not involving divorce. Parenting plans are required even if the couple agrees on a situation and are not disputing time spent with the child. While it is unnecessary to have an attorney draft the initial parenting plan, a family law attorney will help you present evidence regarding what you believe the custodial arrangement should entail. 

 Creating a parenting plan

 The most important aspect of a parenting plan is to define the type of time-sharing with the child and define whether the time the child spends with that parent will be supervised or occur in a different city or state. Other elements in parenting plans include how the children will be raised and how both parents will handle school meetings and extracurricular activities. Parenting plans should also include custody arrangements for holidays, birthdays, and other important celebrations for the family. Parenting plans may also include communication preferences between the child and parents, like whether they will be allowed to use messaging apps or make video calls during the other parent’s designated visitation time. The more specific a parenting plan is, the more the couple is set up for success to avoid issues down the road.

Modifying a parenting plan

Although a lawyer is not necessary to draft the initial parenting plan, you will need to work with a family law attorney to modify one. Modifications to custody agreements are granted in specific situations when one parent experiences a substantial and unanticipated change, such as: 

● Health status 

● The onset of a disability 

● A parent is deemed unfit 

● Abuse or neglect 

● Imprisonment

● Relocation 

When requesting a parental plan modification, you must file a petition with the court   A hearing will be scheduled, where the parent will present evidence to support why the plan should be changed. The other parent does not need to submit proof but should state why they believe the parenting plan should remain the same. 

Family law attorneys in Central Florida 

Family law attorney Thomas R. Peppler can assist parents in many aspects of family law, including child support, prenuptial agreements, and property division in a divorce. You may schedule a consultation by calling our office in Oviedo at 407-278-6073.

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