For divorcing parents in Florida, the challenges of negotiating a fair parenting plan can seem overwhelming. Along with the dramatic changes that occur to daily life, finances and the fallout of divorce, it is important to plan out parenting time that prioritizes the needs of the children, not just each parent’s schedule.
For the non-custodial parent, what does this mean? If you value a connection with your child, you are juggling work schedules and possibly more driving time to make it work. Whether the time-sharing arrangement is the result a cooperative plan worked out by both parents or a court order, it will be also important to consider the child’s age, needs and school or extracurricular schedule when determining how best to proceed.
What might be a typical non-custodial visitation schedule?
Any parenting plan will require communication and a conscious effort on both sides to not bring up old hurts or resentments when focusing on the needs of the children. As younger children require a high level of consistency in their daily lives, each parent must be able to accommodate this routine when they are the caregiver. However, they should also be prepared for the unexpected if the child falls ill or has a change in schedule.
A non-custodial visitation schedule might look like this:
- An overnight stay every other weekend and a mid-week overnight every week.
- Some special occasions, such as birthdays and holidays
- An extended time-share in the summer of two to six weeks
Adaptations to this are also possible, such as creating a three-day weekend instead of the mid-week overnight stay, which will reduce the number of trips.
Florida’s Standard Parenting Time Plan
Under the Standard Parenting Time Plan, which went into effect in 2018, the focus of parenting plans is on what is in the best interests of the child. This law encourages parents to work together to create a plan that accommodates the scheduling limitations of each parent, but that also prioritizes the emotional and developmental needs of the child.
Under the law’s guidelines, the suggested parenting time schedule for a non-custodial parent includes:
- Every other weekend.
- One evening per week.
- Thanksgiving break on even-numbered years.
- Winter and Spring breaks that alternate odd- and even-numbered years.
- Summer break of two weeks.
While these guidelines are only suggestions, they do provide a basic framework from which parents may work to come up with their own individualized schedule. These guidelines will not apply in cases that involve domestic violence or a concern for the child’s safety.