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Florida implements new law regarding parenting plans

Under Florida law, divorcing parents who have minor children are required to put a parenting plan in place. Parenting plans are written documents that detail how children's time will be spent between their parents' homes, where they will spend vacations and holidays and who will be responsible for picking them up and dropping them off at school or for custody exchanges. It may also address things like how child-related expenses will be covered and reimbursed and medical appointments.

Parenting plans can be as detailed as parents choose. The primary goal is to minimize confusion and conflict as parents share custody of their children.

Effective Jan. 1 of this year, Florida has implemented a new law regarding parenting plans. Under this law, if parents can't agree on a parenting plan, Florida's Department of Revenue has the power to refer them to a local circuit court judge where a Standard Parenting Time Plan will be established. Neither parent will have to pay a fee to petition the court for such a plan.

This new law also makes establishment of a parenting plan a requirement for a child support order. As a summary of the bill from last year states, the "Standard Parenting Time Plan provides the non-custodial parent that is paying child support a minimum amount of parenting time with his or her child."

One retired family court judge says that the new law will help ensure that noncustodial parents (generally fathers) will be allowed to see their children if they want to. The law applies to Florida parents, whether were married or not.

It's always best when co-parents can work together, along with their attorneys, to draft a parenting plan that puts the best interests of their children at the forefront. Your attorney can provide guidance on what kind of details you should seek to include in your plan, given your own unique family situation.

Source: WUSF, "New Parenting Law Goes Into Effect In Florida In 2018," Cathy Carter, Dec. 28, 2017

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