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.