Understanding the Okaloosa-Walton Shared Parenting Plan
Florida parenting plans govern relationships with children after a divorce by identifying the time each parent will have with their children, as well as each parent’s responsibilities to make decisions for the children.
Shared ParentingFlorida judges are required to consider a list of statutory factors when setting out a court ordered parenting plan. The plan should generally promote the best interests of the child, while respecting each parent's right to a meaningful relationship with the child.
Although one parent may be assigned ultimate decision-making authority over any area of a child's life, 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), in which case sole parental responsibility may be awarded to one parent.
Timesharing and Decision-MakingThe 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, as well as the obligation of each parent to transport the child for time-sharing.
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 specific responsibilities can be assigned primarily to one parent or the other, such as academics, medical care, religious events or extracurricular activities.
Forms for Parenting PlansMany counties 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, which allow the parties or their attorneys to specify the rights of each parent. You should consult with a local attorney to understand any form parenting plans that are used in your locality. An example of such a plan, the Okaloosa-Walton Shared Parenting Plan, is linked below. Part A of the form outlines parental responsibilities. Part B outlines timesharing for the parties with their children. The form is not mandatory, but is widely used in Okaloosa and Walton counties to help organize and facilitate parental relationships with children.