A Parenting Plan is a document that establishes each parent's rights and responsibilities regarding their child. While relatively recent in Florida, they are necessary to avoid some common co-parenting issues.
1. In Disagreement, the Parenting Plan Controls:
In theory, you and the other parent could take the Parenting Plan, place it in a drawer, and never look at it again. If you both agree to something different then you can do essentially anything you both consent to. In the event of a DISAGREEMENT, the Parenting Plan controls. It is adopted into a Court Order when your Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage is entered.
2. Relocation Statute 61.13001:
The Parenting Plan will establish that either the Relocation Statute (Florida Statute 61.13001) applies for any future move of either party or some other mutually agreed upon language regarding potential relocation. Typically, it is simply the Relocation Statute put in the Parenting Plan.
I remember a time when the Relocation Statute did not exist. There was a time, many moons ago, that one parent could just up and move and the other parent had no control or say so over the matter. Clearly this was a problem. The parent with primary residential responsibility or custody (these terms were used before the wording changed to time-sharing) could move clear across the country and the other parent was left to deal with this new reality. This was extremely difficult on the other parent. Routinely, I would have this other party come to me to try and do something. I would try but without any specific legal recourse the outcomes were very unpredictable.
So this brings us to the Relocation Statute, which dictates that a parent seeking to relocate more than fifty (50) miles from their principle place of residence at the time the Parenting Plan was entered. There is a specific process which is required to be followed.
You need to be aware of the specific requirements of Florida Statute 61.13001.
3. Details Regarding Traveling:
There is a section in the Parenting Plan which establishes some requirements for out-of-State travel and out-of-Country travel.
You need to be aware of these provisions and confirm that you are aware of when you are required to provide notice to the other parent of your intentions to travel and what you may be required to furnish them regarding your whereabouts. Generally, a parent is entitled to know where their children are and where they will be spending the night. In the event of an emergency, a Parent should expect that they can be reached and have information about where the children are.
Sometimes within this part of the Parenting Plan you will establish any details necessary about the acquisition and possession of a child's passport.
4. An Extra-Curricular Activity Does Not Take Precedence Over Your Time:
A parent's time-sharing takes precedence over any extra-curricular activity the child may have. The theory is that usually if the activity is important enough to the child, the parent will make the activity a priority. The problem you typically run in to is when a parent is intentionally signing the child up for an activity that occurs during the other parent's time-sharing. If this happens to be the minority time-sharing parent, this can have massive consequences to their quality time. If you are having issues with something like this, you really need to have a plan to address what may be an active campaign to alienate you from your child.
As with most things in life, communication is king. When respect is given by each parent, these types of issues do not arise. When the other parent is disrepecting your time and relationship with your child you must act aggresively to protect your relationship with your child.