Divorce can rock a child’s world. Children of divorced parents have an 8% lower probability of completing high school. Yet some children adjust to divorce within two years of it occurring.
The difference between a happy child and an unhappy child is a good co-parenting plan. A plan lays out how you and your co-parent will raise your child, even if you’re not together on a regular basis.
However, you can’t just sit down and write a plan. You need to know a few concepts so you get a court’s approval.
What are co-parenting requirements in Florida? How can you develop a plan with your co-parent? How can you discuss issues like housing, health care, and schooling?
Answer these questions and you can make co-parenting far easier than you think. Here is your quick guide.
Understand Florida Co-parenting Requirements
Florida requires all parents to draft a parenting plan during the divorce process. Both parents must draft the plan, and the court must approve it. If the parents cannot agree, the court will establish a plan for them.
The co-parenting plan must describe how the co-parents will share and manage daily tasks. You need to describe how your child will live with you and what you will do to feed, clothe, and house them.
You must provide a schedule clarifying how much time your child will spend with you. Be as specific as possible. If there are certain holidays you want to spend with your child, acknowledge those holidays.
Designate who will be responsible for making decisions for your child. Both of you may have legal custody, but one of you may have more authority over the other. Describe how you will communicate with each other and with your child.
The Florida Supreme Court has issued instructions for filling out parenting plan forms. Download these instructions and follow them step-by-step. If you need help, go to a lawyer, even if you plan on representing yourself in court.
You are also required to pursue co-parenting courses. You can learn about writing a co-parenting plan in co-parenting classes, so you may wait until you’ve taken your classes first. Read about a Florida divorce course and find one that will help you learn about co-parenting plans.
Talk to Your Co-parent
You must communicate with your ex about your divorce co-parenting. If you can sit down with them in person, you should do so.
If you’re uncomfortable sitting down with them, you can communicate with them in a few ways. You can talk to them over the phone or through email.
You can ask an intermediary to go back and forth between the two of you. If both of you have lawyers, the lawyers can talk to each other and draft the co-parenting plan on your behalf.
Try to keep your discussions grounded. Focus on one issue at a time and take notes on what both of you are saying.
It is okay to meet your co-parent multiple times, and it is okay if you don’t agree on everything. Stay civil and work out as many issues as you can.
Prioritize Your Child’s Needs
Florida courts regard the child’s welfare as the highest priority. Even if co-parenting methods are inconvenient for you, you need to put your child at the center of your methods.
Describe how you will provide for your child’s physical and emotional needs. Mention how both of you will maintain your relationship with your child and help them become a healthy and happy adult.
Go into detail about your philosophy as a parent. Explain how you discipline your child when they act out and reward them when they do something right.
Write about anything that may affect your child’s best interests. You may live far away from your other parent, or you may have a work schedule that limits how much time you spend with your child. Describe how you will overcome these obstacles to support your child.
If your child has a medical condition or special needs, you should go into detail about their condition. Mention how you will support them and give them the resources they need to be successful in school.
Find a Balance for Physical Custody
Most parents choose a 50-50 custody schedule. If both of you are fit to be the parents of your child, a 50-50 arrangement is fine.
However, you should think of a few ways you can divide your time. You can switch custody off every week or every month. If you live far away from your co-parent, switching off every month or quarter can make travel arrangements easier.
If you do not choose a 50-50 schedule, you have other options. One parent can see the child in the middle of the week. They can see their child for two weekends every month and visit them on their birthday.
Communication with your co-parent is essential to keep your parenting plan going. Figure out how you can remain in touch with your co-parent over time. You can choose any means of communication you want, as long as you can reach them as soon as possible.
You should communicate with your co-parent if your child experiences an emergency. Make sure they know what is going on and how your child is doing. Connect them with your child so your child knows they have their parent’s support.
If a change in your life may impact the parenting plan, you should tell your co-parent. You do not have to go into details, but mention what you are doing and how things may change. Work out a way you can smooth things over so your child is not impacted.
Feel free to make edits to the parenting plan, but only with the co-parent’s approval. The court must also approve the edits for them to take full effect.
Write the Best Co-parenting Plan in Florida
A co-parenting plan requires your due diligence. You must give specific details about how you will raise your child, and you must work on a plan with your ex. Keep your child at the center of your plan and account for all of their needs, including emotional and special needs.
Find a physical custody arrangement that works for both of you. You should also figure out ways you can stay in touch with your spouse over time.
If you need more information, take informative co-parenting classes. Court Compliance Education serves Florida families. Contact us today.