custody rights - parenting plan

Custody Rights for the Unwed Father – Parenting Plan

Once Paternity has been established as a matter of law, you will need to start thinking about the Parenting Plan. – Part 2 of 3.

If you have not established Paternity, you should contact a family lawyer to help you. In the meantime, check out part 1 of this process on my blog, Custody Rights for the Unwed Father – Establishing Paternity.

I first want to warn you that an attorney at this stage of your custody battle is invaluable. When creating a parenting plan, there are so many things you may not think about. Like we were told in law school when they were convincing us to be a part of a study group…You Don’t Know, What You Don’t Know! But, for your general information, here are some items common to many cases.

Starting with the form. This is the same form you would have used if you had to petition the court to establish paternity. Whether you have established paternity or not, Florida has the below, pre-approved law firm, Petition to Determine Paternity and for Related Relief.

Parenting Plan

What is a parenting plan? A Parenting Plan lays out the specific details of how and when each parent will visit with their children. I do think it is important to first talk about Legal and Physical Custody. Simply put, legal custody refers to the right to make major decisions about your child and the right to access information about your child(ren) such as information from your child’s school and doctor. It is rare that the parents do not end up with joint legal custody. Physical custody refers to your right to spend meaningful time with your child. There are two types of physical custody. One is sole physical custody, the other is joint physical custody. Sole physical custody is when one parent has the majority of the child(ren)’s time and the other parent has planned visitation. Joint physical custody is when both parents have equal or close to equal access to the shared child(ren).

Things to include in a Parenting Plan

parenting plan

This list is not an all-inclusive list, just some examples:

  • Parenting Time Schedule
    • The weekly Parenting time schedule. Below are some examples that one parent may have:
      • Every other weekend and every Wednesday after school
      • Every other week
      • Every weekend
      • Every week from Sunday night to Wednesday morning before school
      • Every first week of every month
      • Every week from Thursday night to Monday morning
    • The holiday Parenting time schedule. For example:
      • Thanksgiving on even years
      • Christmas on odd years
      • New Years on odd years
      • Child’s birthday on even years
      • Mother to have mothers day every year
      • Father to have fathers day every year
      • July 4th on odd years
      • Memorial day on even years
      • Halloween on odd years
    • The summer schedule. For exmple:
      • if one parent has limited parenting time during the school year, they may get extended time in the summer. Some agreement include the full summer with one parent, some do a reverse schedule in the summer, some do a four week visit in the summer or split the summer in the middle.
    • Spring Break. For example:
      • If parents have joint custody they may do all of spring break every other year
      • If one parent has majority parenting time, the other parent may get every spring break.
      • The parents may split spring break each year.
  • Travel responsabilities
    • Who is responsable for drop off and pick up?
    • What will be the drop off and pick up location?
    • How long does one parent have to wait with the child for the other parent to show up before leaving.
  • Remedies for future parenting time denials
  • First refusal to babysit
  • Rules for introducting children to new partners
  • How to negotiate schedule changes
  • How to settle disagreements
  • How the parents will communicate
  • How will extra-curricilar activies be handled
  • Participation in school events
  • How discipline will be handled and if it will carry over to the other parents house
  • Schedules and routines

The list of items in a parenting plan varies for each family. Some families do a wonderful job co-parenting and respecting each other by truly making compromises for their child(ren). Other families have a harder time getting along with their ex-partner which creates the need for a much longer list of items to be outlined in the court order. It is important to remember, just because you are getting along now, doesn’t mean you always will. You can create a well-detailed parenting plan to have just in case the co-parenting relationship starts to break down.

The details of your situation are what create a well-thought-out parenting plan made to last. This is why having a detail-oriented family attorney is invaluable to your case.

***Forms are provided by the Florida Courts and are complete with detailed instructions for the pro se litigant. I am NOT advising you to file these forms because I do not know your case details. It is important that you contact an attorney to be sure you are filing the proper forms for your particular case facts. If you feel like you can handle your child custody case, please do your research first and be sure to follow the Florida court’s directions and the directions provided by your county.***

Part 3 – Custody Rights for the Unwed Father – Child Support

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