Five Parenting Plan Requirements in St. Lucie County
The American family has changed a lot since the 1970s. Today, for the first time in history, most Florida children live in non-traditional households. Typically, these households feature a married mother and father who have been married previously, and they each bring children into the new relationship. These Brady Bunch-type families do not always mesh together seamlessly like they did on the iconic TV show.
In fact, modern co-parenting requires an extensive list of rules and expectations. These things must go into the highly-detailed parenting plan. So, when your divorce gets to this point, your Port St. Lucie divorce attorney must go over a number of situations.
Time Sharing Arrangements
Parenting plans begin with the time sharing division. Florida law presumes that children benefit from consistent and meaningful contact with both parents. So, for the most part, the parenting plan must ensure such a division.
The traditional every other weekend and every other holiday division works very well in many situations. Increasingly, however, parenting plans contain more innovative divisions, such as:
- Extended Weekends: Moving the start time to Thursday night and the end time to Monday night significantly expands the non-residential parent’s time with the children. Simple changes like these usually go over well with St. Lucie County family law judges.
- Empty Nest: Instead of the children moving between two different houses, the children stay put and the parents move between separate houses. This arrangement is usually very good for the children, because it is not nearly as disruptive as traditional divisions.
- Block Scheduling: The children spend two weeks with Parent A, two weeks with Parent B, and then the cycle repeats. This division is a predictable arrangement which is usually easy on the children.
The parenting time plan must be very specific with regard to pickup and drop-off times and locations. Many times, a neutral exchange place works well, such as a McDonald’s or a park.
Division of Responsibilities
In many families, there is a “fun” parent and a “serious” parent. Children need both to thrive. But many times, the “fun” mom or dad is not very adept at telling kids to brush their teeth and do their homework. And the “serious” mom or dad never deviates from the schedule.
So, the parenting plan must include provisions like these. For example, there must be language regarding nightly baths, limits on screen time, and other such matters. These orders can be modified later as the children get older and their needs otherwise change.
In the old days, a generic statement about joint responsibility for healthcare decisions was sufficient. But that’s no longer the case.
Florida parenting plans must include specific provisions, such as the doctor’s name and address. The parenting plan must also explicitly give both parents the right to consent to medical treatment, in most cases. Perhaps more importantly, the plan must give the parents equal access to medical records.
As children get older, they become involved in a wide range of sports, music, and other extracurricular activities. The parents must do more than support their kids in these endeavors and divide the cost equitably. The parenting plan must also contain transportation and other such provisions.
Furthermore, the parenting plan must also include activity limits. That could be a hard limit in terms of the number of hours a well, or it could be a requirement that the parents jointly decide what to enroll the children in.
This subject is particularly important if a parent lives far away from the children. The parenting plan should include provisions like Skype and FaceTime limits, as well as time, place, and date restrictions. Blanket provisions like “unlimited electronic contact” usually do not work very well.
Contact a Dedicated Lawyer
Parenting plans must be a foundation for co-parenting. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.