What is "shared parenting" in a Florida divorce?

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In 2009, the Florida Legislature passed a comprehensive statute regulating the award of child support and child custody. Among the act's key concepts is "shared parenting," a legal term that is unique to Florida. The statute requires every court to approve a parenting plan" as part of any order directing the payment of child support or regarding child custody issues.

The statute lays out the essential elements of a parenting plan. A parenting plan must describe in adequate detail how the two parents will share and be responsible for fulfilling the daily tasks involved in raising the child. The plan must also specify how much time the child will spend with each parent, which parent will be responsible for the child's health care and school-related matters.

All parenting plans must be approved by the court, but the responsibility of drafting the plan is initially given to the parents. If the parents cannot agree on a plan, the court will impose its own plan in accordance with the statute and the facts of the case. The term "parental responsibility" is not defined in the statute, but its meaning can be derived from the statutory definition of "shared parental responsibility." The term means a "court ordered relationship" in which both parents retain full parental rights and both parents confer with each other. The court must order shared parental responsibility in every case involving minor children, even though most people realize that not every pair of divorced parents will be able to achieve shared parenting.

Anyone who is the parent of a minor child and is facing the possibility of divorce may wish to consult a knowledgeable divorce lawyer on the issues involved in determining child custody and the requirements of shared parenting. An experienced attorney will be able to offer advice on negotiating and drafting a shared parenting plan that protects the children and advances the parent's wishes for the child.

Source: thelizlibrary.org, "A Parenting Plan Must Include a Parental Responsibility Order and a Time-Sharing Schedule," R. Thomas Corbin, accessed on Feb. 25, 2018

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