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Florida Parenting Plans

Florida parenting plans govern post-divorce relationships with children by identifying the time each parent will have with their children, as well as each parent’s responsibilities to make decisions for the children.  Parenting plans are either created by the parties in an uncontested divorce or they are created by the court after a divorce trial.

The provisions of Florida parenting plans can vary widely.  The schedule of physical custody for both parents is often determined by work schedules, school calendars and holidays.  The parenting plan should also identify pick-up and drop-off locations and times, the obligation of each parent to transport the children for time-sharing, as well as any right a parent has to have the children in their care and control when the other parent cannot do so (known as back-up care rights).

Parental responsibilities for children can also vary, but are most often determined by examining the role each parent took in making decisions for the children prior to divorce.  For instance, if one parent typically took responsibility for the children’s medical care, that parent might be assigned “ultimate decision-making authority” for medical issues.  Any number of responsibilities can be assigned primarily to one parent or the other, such as academics, medical care, religious events or extracurricular activities.  Although one parent may be assigned ultimate decision-making authority over any area of the children’s lives, the court will typically designate the parenting plan as a “shared” parenting plan.  This means that both parties will retain all parental rights to their children, the right to information about their children and the right to provide input on each decision that affects their children.  Exceptions are made for cases where a parent is unfit to make decisions for the children (e.g. drug addiction or incarceration).

Most jurisdictions have a form shared parenting plan to guide parties in a divorce.  The form will contain check boxes and other standard provisions for a parenting plan and allow the parties or their attorneys to identify the rights of each parent.  An example of such a form can be found in the Okaloosa County Shared Parenting Plan, which doubles as the Walton County Shared Parenting Plan.  The content of form parenting plans will usually vary from county to county in Florida.  Note that, if the form is used, edits to the plan can be difficult or impossible.  Therefore, if you want a plan that is tailored to your particular circumstances, you will need to consult with an experienced Florida family law attorney.

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Andrew D. Wheeer is a family law, elder law and appellate attorney, and the founder of The Wheeler Firm, PA. Andrew only take cases in those practice areas in order to focus on those special areas of the law. With offices in Fort Walton Beach and Miramar Beach, Andrew represents clients throughout Okaloosa and Walton counties, and has represented more than 2,000 clients over the course of the past 15 years. Andrew attended the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, and graduated with a Juris Doctorate of law in 2002. While attending law school, Andrew was active in numerous legal writing opportunities, won awards for legal writing and was selected as a member of the Cumberland Law Review. Andrew was then accepted to the Cumberland Study Abroad Program and attended Durham University in Durham, England. Andrew also worked as a research assistant and intern for Chief Magistrate Judge John Ott in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. Over the next 15 years, Andrew represented thousands of clients in divorce, adoption, custody modification proceedings, child support contempt actions, probate litigation, and counseled clients on elder law rights, including long-term care planning and general estate planning. Andrew believes clients desire representation from attorneys who have a thorough understanding of their specific legal issues. Therefore, after beginning his career as a general practitioner, Andrew chose to focus his career on a few specific areas of law - those that affect the family. He continues to concentrate on those areas today. Andrew regularly interacts with the public by speaking to groups of people on family and elder law topics, including long-term care planning and techniques to avoid probate litigation. In 2012, Andrew began teaching seminars on adoption law through the National Business Institute, providing guidance to other attorneys on proper procedures to secure adoptions of children. Andrew is married to Regina Wheeler, with whom he has a son, and the family resides in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. Andrew serves as President of the Destin Kiwanis Club and is active in the local chambers of commerce.

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