In Jacksonville, Florida, Family Law and Visitation took on a new role on October 1, 2008 and the way custody and family law has been practiced in Florida is no more. With the new parenting plan statute, judges are no longer to use taboo words such as custody, visitation, custody litigation, primary residence or access and contact. The words will now be replaced with the terms “parenting”, “parenting plan litigation” or “time sharing schedule litigation”, “time sharing majority of the time”, and “time sharing”.When dealing with visitation and parent-relations, “best interests” of the child factors have now changed and new factors have been implemented in Florida Family Law. The Florida parenting plan statute is designed to isolate the children from the divorce proceedings as much as possible and to emphasize drafting a plan to help parents in divorce meet the child’s needs.
The following factors are now considered when parents are divorcing and custody and children are at issue:
(a) The demonstrated capacity & disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close & continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the timesharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.
(b) The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
(c) The demonstrated capacity & disposition of each parent to determine, consider & act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.
(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
(e) The geographic viability of the parenting plan, with special attention paid to the needs of school-age children and the amount of time to be spent traveling to effectuate the parenting plan. This factor does not create a presumption for or against relocation of either parent with a child The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home.
(f) The moral fitness of the parents.
(g) The mental and physical health of the parents.
(h) The home, school, and community record of the child.
(i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the child is of sufficient age.
(j) The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, & disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.
(k) The demonstrated capacity & disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
(l) The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child.
(m) Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought.
(n) Evidence that either parent has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding any prior or pending action regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.
The change is supposed to change the way people look at custody cases as the term “custody” involves possession and ownership concepts whereas “shared parenting” means to keep two parents actively involved in the child’s life. There are certain things that MUST be contained in a parenting plan.