Florida does not use the term “custody” in family matters because the presumption is that the parties will engage in shared parenting.  The parties must try to agree upon a Parenting Plan to define who takes care of children after a divorce. Parenting Plans specify each parent’s right to the minimum amount of time they can spend with their children. The Florida statute defines a Parenting Plan and its contents as follows:

“Parenting plan” means a document created to govern the relationship between the parents relating to decisions that must be made regarding the minor child and must contain a time-sharing schedule for the parents and child. The issues concerning the minor child may include, but are not limited to, the child’s education, health care, and physical, social, and emotional well-being. In creating the plan, all circumstances between the parents, including their historic relationship, domestic violence, and other factors must be taken into consideration.

(a) The parenting plan must be:

1. Developed and agreed to by the parents and approved by a court; or

2. Established by the court, with or without the use of a court-ordered parenting plan recommendation, if the parents cannot agree to a plan or the parents agreed to a plan that is not approved by the court.

Because there is no legal concept for “Custody” under Florida family law, only the most egregious circumstances, such as serious child abuse, will allow a court to grant “sole custody” to one parent of the other.  And the calculation of child support is specified by statute and cannot be waived by either parent because it is considered a right of the child to receive support from both parents.  However, the parents can agree to share their responsibilities as may fit their circumstances.

How to create a Parenting Plan 

In today’s world, there are so many different forms of parents’ employment and work schedules, that there is no “one size fits all” approach. Many factors will determine the best arrangement for you and your family. A major factor is your proximity to your ex-spouse and your work schedules. Parents with certain occupations, such as truck drivers or flight attendants, may benefit from having their children for multiple weeks at a time. Parents who live in the same neighborhood or town may enjoy an arrangement allowing visitation every few days. Other important parts of any agreement will govern where the children will attend school, who will carry their health insurance, and how the transfer of the children from one parent to the other will occur.

Child Support   

As stated above, Child support is required by statute.  After a Parenting Plan is created, child support will be calculated based upon the number of overnights that each parent has the children, the incomes of each parent, the cost of the children’s health insurance, and any daycare costs.  As a general rule, the child support is paid through the court or state. 

Peppler Law, P.A. — Central Florida family Lawyer 

Family law attorney Thomas R. Peppler deals with family law and divorce cases throughout Orlando and Central Florida. We can assist in helping develop a parenting plan and custody arrangement that keeps your desires in mind during a divorce. Schedule a free consultation by calling 407-278-6073. 

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