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How Does Florida’s New Standard Parenting Time Plan work?
Relatively recently, in 2018, Florida’s new child custody law became effective. The new law is called the Standard Parenting Time Plan.
The Standard Parenting Time Plan is intended to facilitate the sharing of parental rights and responsibilities between unmarried parents who are no longer together or who choose to live separately. The law also focused on shifting the focus of Florida’s child custody laws back to the “best interests of the child,” a world-class standard for child custody arrangements.
What Does a Florida Parenting Plan Include?
Under Florida law, a parenting plan has to include:
- How the parties plan to share daily tasks involved in raising a child/children
- A time-sharing schedule
- A decision as to who will be in charge of filling out forms for health care, school, and other activities, and
- How parents will communicate with the children.
While many people still believe that Florida family courts favor mothers in child custody, divorced and unmarried fathers in Florida have rights, too. One goal of the new law is to support the relationship between a child or children and the non-custodial parent, which is often, but not always, the father.
How Does the Standard Parenting Time Plan in Florida Affect Child Custody Cases?
The primary goal of the plan is to shift the focus back to the best interests of the child. Family law is a dynamic discipline. This means that it changes over time as family lawyers and advocates for children learn from scientific and psychological research over time.
Like technology advances over time, so does the law. As studies have begun to show the benefits of collaborative divorce, the law has made changes in the divorce and child custody process to minimize conflict between parents.
To establish child custody, parents can come to an agreement on a parenting plan. It lays out the time for visitation for the non-custodial parent. This is usually the parent that has less time with the child and likely pays child support, although one parent will pay child support even if the parents share 50/50 custody.
While parents are encouraged to reach an agreement that works for them, which gives them agency and buy-in in the child custody decision, if they have not done so by the time of the child support hearing, the law suggests the Standard Parenting Time Plan.
In addition, the law waives the filing fee for the parenting plan. This financial incentive is intended to make the process more manageable for both parties. In this way, it helps parents overcome financial barriers that sometimes make non-custodial parent visitation time more difficult to obtain.
What Are the Terms of the Florida Standard Parenting Time Plan?
What does the Florida Standard Parenting Time Plan law suggest, if parents cannot agree?
It covers both regular and holiday custody time as follows:
Regular Custody Time
For regular custody time, ordinary, non-holiday, and non-vacation days, the law suggests the following for non-custodial parents:
- Every other weekend. The second and fourth full weekend of each month from 6 PM on Friday until 6 PM on Sunday. Alternatively, weekends may begin on the child’s release from school on Friday and/or end when the child returns to school the following Monday morning if agreed upon by both parents. The weekend can also be extended to holidays that fall on the Monday or Friday of the visitation weekend.
- One evening per week. One weekday evening each week, beginning at 6 PM and ending at 8 PM. The evening can also begin when the child is released from school that day and end at 8 PM if both parents agree.
In addition to these regular custody time suggestions, the Standard Parenting Time Plan also addresses certain holidays and school break periods.
Holiday and School Break Custody Time
One benefit to reaching an agreement between parents is that they can include the holidays important to their family.
However, in the absence of an agreement, the Standard Parenting Time Plan covers:
- Thanksgiving break
- Winter break
- Spring break
- Summer break
An experienced family law attorney can help you negotiate the terms of a parenting plan that will work best for your family and meet the best interests of your child. You can even use Florida’s Standard Parenting Time Plan as a starting point to help you figure out what works for you.
Contact Our Divorce Law Firm in Orlando, FL
Contact the experienced Orlando divorce lawyers at McMichen, Cinami & Demps today for legal assistance. Contact our Orlando, FL office at (407) 898-2161 to schedule a free consultation.
McMichen, Cinami & Demps – Orlando Office
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Orlando, FL 32803