Orlando family law attorney Jennifer Dane answers the question: "What is a parenting plan?"
A parenting plan is a relatively new tool that’s been laid out by the legislature. It’s replaced what we used to call custody and visitation. Instead now, we have a parenting plan, which lays out timesharing.
Any time parents are divorced, or are not married, and are going to be living separately and raising a child together, they’re going to be co-parenting that child. Because the child is going to be living in a different place with mom or with dad, back and forth, we have to have, essentially, the rules by which the parties are going to agree to co-parent that child.
A parenting plan will lay out, specifically, what everyone’s rights and responsibilities are for the child until the child is 18 or until the child emancipates. Included in that would be a timesharing arrangement. The timesharing arrangement is going to speak specifically with regard to who has the child on what days and for what holidays, when the exchanges will be, what the telephone contact with the other parent will be on the times when the child is with the opposite parent… It’s basically going to lay out everything for the child going forward. It will talk about health insurance. Who’s going to pay the health insurance? Who’s going to cover the uncovered medical expenses? Are we going to split that 50/50?
A parenting plan will also talk about extracurricular activities. Do the parties have to mutually agree on the extracurricular activities? Who’s going to be responsible for transporting the child to the extracurricular activities?
It’s all things that, if you were living together and raising the child, you would have to talk about anyway, but you would be living together and doing it. Instead, you’re living separately and doing the same things, and we like to have everything written down, so there’s no question about what everybody’s going to be doing going forward.
The great thing about a parenting plan is it gives parents the ability to work together and to change it and to modify it as they need to. However, if for some reason the parties can’t agree on a change, then we have a default document that you’re going to go back to, and that’s the parenting plan with the timesharing arrangement.
So, that basically is the parenting plan. It covers custody and visitation, or what we used to call custody and visitation, of the minor children, and it gives everyone their rights and responsibilities to the child going forward.