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What happens if we can’t agree on a parenting plan?

“When will I get to see my kids?”

It’s a common question among divorcing parents, who often worry their relationships with their children will suffer because of the separation. Fortunately, Florida requires splitting couples to think through the new situation by creating a parenting plan. But what happens if, after lots of talking and negotiation, you can’t reach an agreement?

Crafting a parenting plan

For a divorcing couple with one or more minor children that wants to have time-sharing, parenting plans are mandatory. These documents are quite detailed and include considerations for very specific circumstances. For example, when exchanging a child, how late does the receiving parent have to be before the parent with the child can simply make other arrangements?

Or, can a child video chat with the parent they are not with? Are there restrictions to when that might happen?

Providing answers to these very granular questions may sound unnecessary. But reaching an agreement now can save a lot of hassle down the line. So what happens if you and your child’s other parent can’t agree to a plan?

The court will get involved

If a divorcing couple can not agree to a parenting plan themselves, then the court steps in and establishes one. And they may not take any of a parent’s recommendations into account. The court will craft a parenting plan based on whatever is in the best interests of the child. That can include looking at:

  • How the parties might divide parenting duties
  • The mental and physical health of each parent
  • Whether each parent has shown they can respond to the needs of their children – not the needs or desires of themselves
  • How well each parent communicates with the other
  • The home, school and community history of the child
  • Whether the parent may involve the child in litigation

Of course, this is just a small sampling of the possible factors the court might consider.

If parents can write and agree to a parenting plan on their own (or with the assistance of a lawyer) before the court steps in, that can be ideal. At the same time, any final document should be fair. You don’t want to give up time and have it hurt your relationship with your child.

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