Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Child Custody

Long-distance Florida parenting plans come into play when one parent resides out-of-state or more than 50 miles from the children's primary residence. In the case Aranda v. Padilla, 216 So.3d 652 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017), the appellate court considered a trial court's ruling on a father's request for holiday time-sharing, assistance with travel costs to effectuate time-sharing and shared parental responsibility in a long-distance parenting plan. 

First, the trial court awarded sole parental responsibility to the mother in this case without making a finding that shared would be detrimental to the children. In reversing this provision of the order, the appellate court noted a previous case in which it was held that a finding of a mother's inability to exercise shared parental responsibility due to her medical condition was not the same as a finding that shared parental responsibility was detrimental to the children. 

Second, the trial court failed to award the father any holiday time-sharing. In determining that this was error, the appellate court ordered the trial court to either make required findings of fact justifying the denial of holiday time-sharing (which under the law, requires a finding of extreme circumstances) or grant extended school break and holiday time-sharing. 

Last, the trial court required the father to pay for all travel to effectuate his time-sharing without considering the respective financial positions of the parties. In reversing this provision, the appellate court cited case law that held "The expense of transporting the minor child for visitation is a child-rearing expense like any other [which] should be shared by the parents in accordance with their financial means." 

A long-distance parenting plan requires specific considerations that should be carefully worded to avoid uncertainty and unfairness. Consult with a Miami child custody lawyer to determine which provisions work best for your family.