Collaborative Parenting Plans: Anticipating Events Certain to Occur

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Parents in Florida divorce and paternity cases may anticipate and plan for events reasonably certain to occur in their children’s lives. They may enter into parenting agreements that flexibly adjust provisions when predicted and planned for events take place.

Case Examples of Events Reasonably Certain to Occur

For example, in Rivera v. Purtell, 252 So. 3d 283 (Fla. 5th DCA 2018), parents “could reasonably anticipate the circumstances that would exist” when an event occurred, and the court, “could therefore make a reasoned best interests determination based upon those anticipated circumstances.”  See also Stevens v. Stevens, 929 So.2d 721 (Fla. 5th DCA 2006) (parents planned custody changes based upon an expected date-certain event, namely, circumstances that would exist when the father’s tour of duty ended).

In Johnson v. Johnson, Case No. 4D20-504 (Fla. 4th DCA March 24, 2021), the trial court could account in the parenting plan for circumstances reasonably certain to occur: the child’s starting school. Anticipating that event, the court could adjust the school boundary designation (if not in violation of school board policies).

The court gave mom an option. They depended on whether mom chose to move back to Palm Beach County or to stay in Broward County. First, mom could choose to move back to Palm Beach County with the child, be the parent with majority timesharing. Dad would have Thursday overnights and long alternating weekends. Alternatively, mom could stay in Broward County. If she did, dad would having majority timesharing and she’d get alternating weekends starting Friday afternoon. The appellate court upheld the court’s building these conditions into the parenting plan.

Circumstances Parents Might Determine Are Reasonably Certain to Occur at a Definite Time

Future events the reasonable certainty of which parents may consider will occur at a definite time may include:
  • A child’s starting school
  • Graduation from grade school, middle school
  • Adjusting school boundary designation based on the possibility 1 parent will change residence
  • Special needs child needing Individual Education Plans (IEPs), therapies, special needs trust, guardianship, skilled caretaking.
  • Engaging with family and friends, including attending playdates, birthday parties, and celebrations 
  • Participation in extracurricular activities, including athletics and arts in which children appear to show early aptitude
  • Taking vacations
  • Traveling when of age
  • Introduction to future partners and blending families
  • Medical care
  • Continued mental health counseling 

Parents should respect the Court’s ongoing obligation to safeguard children’s interests. If they build in contingencies, they should consider enlisting Court approval when predicted events happen.

Read More:

Part 1: Collaborative Family Law Agreements and A Child’s Prospective Best Interests 

Part 2: Collaborative Family Law Agreements: Florida Parenting Plan Basics

Part 3: Collaborative Family Law Agreements: A Child’s Future Best Interests

Part 4: Florida Parenting Plans and Events Reasonably Certain to Occur

Part 5: Children’s Best Interests: Parenting Plans Entail Prediction

Part 6: Collaborative Parenting Plans: Extraordinary Burden for Modification

Part 7: Collaborative Family Law: Florida Favors Settlement Agreements

Part 8: Collaborative Parenting Plans: Judges Must Safeguard Children

Part 10: Parenting Plan Modification: Enlist Court Review When Events Occur

Part 11: Collaborative Parenting Plans: How Will You Resolve Future Impasses?

Part 12: Contingencies Parents Build into their Parenting Plans in Florida Divorces

Part 13: Florida Parenting Plans: Agreeing to a Different Burden for Modification

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