Parenting Plan FAQs
1. What rights do I have to obtain copies of my children’s school and medical records?
Access to records and information pertaining to children, including, but not limited to, medical, dental, and school records, may not be denied to either parent. Each parent has full rights to receive access to this information unless a court order specifically restrict or revoke these rights. Each parent has the same rights upon request as to form, substance, and manner of access as are available to the other parent, including, without limitation, the right to in-person communication with medical, dental, and education providers.
2. How does the court decide how much custody and visitation I will have with my child?
The court will decide all matters relating to custody and visitation in accordance with the best interests of the child. The determination of the best interests of the child shall be made by evaluating all of the factors affecting the welfare and interests of the particular child and the circumstances of that family, including, but not limited to:
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.
- The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
- The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan.
- The mental and physical health of the parents.
- The home, school, and community record of the child.
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
- The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
- The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.
- Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought.
- Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.
- The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties;
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
- The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse.
- The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.
- The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
- Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.
3. Is there a preference for the mother or the father in awarding custody?
It is the public policy of the State of Florida that each child shall have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the marriage of the parties is dissolved, and to encourage parents to share the rights, responsibilities, and joys of child rearing. There is no presumption for or against the father or the mother of the child or for or against any specific time-sharing schedule when creating or modifying the parenting plan of the child.
4. After a divorce, which parent gets to make decisions concerning where our child goes to school, what doctor our child will see, etc.?
In Florida, courts will order that parental decision-making will be shared by both parents unless the court finds that shared decision-making will be detrimental to the best interests of children. If the court determines that shared parental decision-making would be detrimental to the children, it may order sole parental decision-making and make such arrangements for custody and visitation as will best protect the children or abused spouse from harm. The court may grant to one party ultimate responsibility over specific aspects of the children’s welfare or may divide those responsibilities between the parties based on the best interests of the children. Areas of responsibility may include education, health care, and any other responsibilities that the court finds unique to a particular family. Where a parent has been convicted of a misdemeanor of the first degree or higher involving domestic violence, or meets the criteria of Fla. Stat. § 39.806(1)(d), this will warrant a different analysis.