Who Decides on a Parenting Plan During a Divorce, the Parents or the Courts?

The short answer is both, however, it all comes down to the circumstances surrounding the divorce that affects who has a say in the creation of a parenting plan.


When a marriage doesn’t quite work out, yet the couple has children together, they must address a few things during the divorce proceedings that determine how decisions are going to be made regarding their kids. Sometimes, this is easier and sometimes, it is more difficult depending on what terms you and your spouse are currently on. The way in which these decisions are addressed is generally through the creation of a parenting plan. A parenting plan is “a document developed and agreed to by the parents of a minor child, and approved by the court, or if the parents cannot agree, established by the court, which governs the relationship between the parents regarding the child” [Source: Sixth Judicial Circuit].

In most instances, the divorcing parents are both given the right to create this parenting plan as it helps to ensure“that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with [each of their parents]” [Source: The Florida Bar]. The fact is, both parents play a vital role in a child’s life and should be given the opportunity to express their concerns regarding decisions that will ultimately affect their child’s welfare. Unfortunately, when a couple is unable to come to terms on certain things, that is when the courts will step in and create a parenting plan that they believe to be in the best interest of the child.

Therefore, it is best that if a couple is going to be living within a close distance to one another that they work to create this parenting plan so that a judge doesn’t have to. The fact is, you and your spouse know what your children’s needs and desires are and you wouldn’t want these jeopardized because the two of you can’t agree on certain matters.

Now, if you have gotten to the point where you feel that your spouse areable to sit down and have a decent conversation to create this parenting plan, some areas that you will want to address include:

  1. Who will provide day-to-day care? It is important to establish who will be taking care of the children, how many days out of the week, and what the terms will be when the children are with one parent or the other.

  2. What will be done in the event of an emergency? Each parent should provide their input on what emergency decisions will be made that relate to your children’s health and/or safety and what the guidelines will be in terms of how one parent will notify the other.
  3. Child records.According to the Twelfth Judicial Circuit Family Law Division, “each parent [should] have access to all academic, medical, and other health-related information pertaining to their children, and they shall sign any necessary documentation ensuring that both parents have access to said records. Both parents shall share all information to such records.” If you and your spouse struggle to get along, it may be in your best interest to include a clause in this portion of the plan that states that “each parent shall be responsible for getting their own copies of records and reports directly from the school and medical facilities.”
  4. How you both plan to play an active role in your children’s educational, emotional and social progress.
  5. Who will be listed as an emergency contact for your children?
  6. How will you keep in contact with one another? Because it is important that you keep open lines of communication between you and your spouse to ensure your child has all that they need and that there aren’t any issues that are being neglected, you should stipulate in the parenting plan that each parent shall provide the other parent with their contact information upon it being changed. You can also include guidelines on which method each parent should use to contact one another in the event something needs to be discussed or you want to speak to your child even when it isn’t your visiting time.

[Source: Twelfth Judicial Circuit Family Law Division].


While it would be nice to be able to sit down with your spouse and create this parenting plan calmly and rationally, the reality is, divorces can become rather messy, which can make creating a parenting plan more difficult to accomplish. However, rather than have a judge create it for you, it is best you retain a FL divorce lawyer who can help you and your spouse settle your differences for the time being while you create it. Milton, FL divorce attorney Laura Spencer Coleman is one of the best divorce lawyers in the field and can work with you and your spouse to sort through your differences so that you can create a parenting plan that accurately reflects what will be best for your children.

Therefore, if you would like help in creating your parenting plan and want to be sure it follows the guidelines that the FL courts will approve, contact this attorney today as she can help you accomplish this and much more.


You can reach Laura S. Coleman, P.A. at:

5228 Elmira Street

Milton, FL 32570