DO WE REALLY HAVE TO DO A PARENTING PLAN?
The short answer…. YES.
You may ask, Why? There are several reasons why a well thought out parenting plan is important in your divorce if you have minor children. The first answer is because it is legally required. Most Courts will not finalize a divorce with children without signing off on a parenting plan.
In addition to it being legally required, it is important for you and your soon –to- be -ex to have a schedule that is in writing and clear to both parents. Taking the time to craft a well thought out parenting plan that works for you and your children will save arguments with your ex after the divorce is final. A parenting plan serves as a road map for how you will handle time with your children, decisions regarding education, medical treatment and religion. It also lays out how you will divide the summers and holidays. The plan addresses extracurricular activities and how costs will be shared. A good plan is a fallback that keeps things stable and ultimately is designed to keep you from having to come back to Court to argue about the details.
It is important to take the time with your attorney to think through the plan and what will work best for you and your children. Spending the time upfront to draft a thorough and clear plan that serves the needs of your specific family will save you time, money, and stress later. The parenting plan should be clear and easy to understand. Ambiguous or unclear sections are the ones most litigated post divorce.
The parenting plan should cover the statutory requirements and it should also be tailored to the individual needs of your family. The devil is in the details when it comes to good, solid parenting plans.
A good parenting plan is also necessary in the event of an uncooperative or unfair ex. If a parent fails to follow the parenting plan, it is grounds for contempt of court in Florida. It is imperative for the plan to be clear enough for the Judge to understand and follow. If the Judge finds that one parent is failing to follow a clearly written parenting plan, that parent may be subject to sanctions by the Court. This is helpful for 2 reasons: First, it helps keep people honest to begin with, so you don't have to go back to Court. Secondly, if you do have to take the other parent back to Court because he/she won't follow the plan, you have a good chance of winning the Motion for Contempt if the Judge understands clearly how the other party disobeyed the plan.
All in all, you must file a Parenting Plan because the law says so; but in the end, you will benefit by writing a solid Parenting Plan in your case.