If you are divorcing and have minor children or are co-parenting children out of wedlock and you are not living with the other parent, you will need a parenting plan. There are three template parenting plan court forms: Forms 12.995(a), (b), and (c). Which version you use depends on your circumstances. The forms are comprehensive; however, they are missing a few basic co-parenting principles. These common-sense principles are so obvious you may question why they should even be mentioned in a plan. However, it is worth reducing these principles to writing in the event circumstances change and you have to fall back on the plan.
First, you and your co-parent should consider identifying a couple of family members or other close family friends to stand in for each of you in the event one parent is unable co-parent or perform the obligations under the parenting plan for an extended period. These individuals should be asked in advance of naming them in the plan if they would be willing to help and take on some of the visitation times if one parent is not available.
Second, each parent should refrain from speaking negatively about the other parent and prevent others from speaking negatively of the other parent when the child(ren) are within hearing distance.
Third, you should obtain your co-parent’s consent prior to signing your child(ren) up for extracurricular activities that will occur during your co-parent’s scheduled time with the child(ren).
Also, each parent should care for the clothing and other possessions owned by the other parent which are brought to their homes by the child(ren). Such clothing should be returned to the other parent laundered unless still being worn because the visit did not include an overnight stay.
Additionally, depending on the age of your child(ren), routines should remain the same at each home. For example, eating, napping, watching TV or playing videos, doing homework, outdoor activities and going to bed should occur at about the same times at each home.
Further, each parent should obtain permission from the other parent before certain material activities are performed or activities are taken. These include engaging in potentially unsafe activities like scuba diving, allowing cosmetic surgery, tattoos or body piercing and making life- altering decisions, such selecting a college or joining the military.
Southwest Florida Divorce and Family Mediation Services
Florida Supreme-court Certified Family Mediator