Florida Statute § 61.13(2)(b) governs the contents of a parenting plan following a divorce proceeding. Under chapter 61, parties to a divorce are required to submit a parenting plan in all cases involving time sharing of minor children. Parties are required to submit a parenting plan even when the time-sharing arrangements for children are not an issue in a divorce.

Section 61.13(2)(b) provides:

A parenting plan approved by the court must, at a minimum, describe in adequate detail how the parents will share and be responsible for the daily tasks associated with the upbringing of the child; the time-sharing schedule arrangements that specify the time that the minor child will spend with each parent; a designation of who will be responsible for any and all forms of health care, school related matters include the address to be used for school-boundary determination and registration, and other activities; and the methods and techniques that the parents will use to communicate with the child.

Florida’s parenting plan statute requires the court-approved parenting plan to spell out how key decisions will be made regarding the day-to-day affairs of a child. There have been instances, however, where trial courts approved parenting plans which delegated certain decision making authorities. For example, in Letorneau v. Letorneau, 564 so. 2d 270 (Fla. 4th DCA 1990), the trial court entered an order delegating to the mother the authority to approve the times the father could exercise his time sharing rights. On appeal, the Fourth District Court of Appeal found that the trial court had improperly delegated the court’s decision making authority (i.e. when the father could exercise timesharing) to the mother.

In Clark v. Clark, the trial court entered a time-sharing plan that provided the couple’s 10 year-old child with discretion on whether to spend time with her mother. On appeal, the Fifth District held that the delegation of decision making to the couple’s child was improper. Clark v. Clark, 35 So. 3d 989 (Fla. 5th DCA 2010). Courts have also found it improper to delegate decision making authority under a parenting plan to a therapist, guardian ad litem and parenting coordinator. In Larocka v. Larocka, 43 So. 3d 911 (Fla. 5th DCA 2010), the Fifth District held that it was the responsibility of the trial court, not a counselor, to determine a parent’s timesharing schedule with a child. See also, Lovell v. Lovell, 14 So. 3d 1111 (Fla. 5th DCA 2009). Similarly, in Shugar v. Shugar, 924 So. 2d 941 (Fla. 1st DCA 2006), the First District found a trial court’s orders were improper where they placed decision making authority concerning time sharing with the guardian ad litem.

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Below are some recent posts on Florida divorce law:

What are Florida’s Residency Requirements for a Divorce?

Temporary Alimony in Florida (Part 1): Maintaining a Standard of Living.

Understanding Equitable Distribution in a Florida Divorce.

When Will a Florida Court Award Rehabilitative Alimony?

How Do Florida Courts Determine a Spouse’s Ability to Pay Alimony?

Special thanks to Peter L. Gladstone, Esq., for his recent presentation at the 2014 Marital and Family Law Review Course.  Peter’s materials during his presentation referenced the cases referenced in this post.