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Key Terms



A judgment or order incorporating a Parenting Plan is a child custody determination for the purposes of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, the International Child Abduction Remedies Act, 42 U.S.C. ss. 11601 et seq., the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, and the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction enacted at the Hague on October 25, 1980.


Money paid from one parent to the other for benefit of their dependent or minor child(ren).

Dependent Children

Child(ren) who depend on their parent(s) for support either because they are under the age of 18, they have mental or physical disability that prevents them from supporting themselves, or they are in high school while between the ages of 18 and 19 and are performing in good faith with reasonable expectation of graduation before the age of 19.

Domestic Violence

A learned pattern of physical, verbal, sexual and/or emotional behavior in which one person in a relationship uses force, fear, and intimidation to dominate or control the other person, often with the threat or use of violence. Domestic violence is a crime.

Electronic Communication

Contact, other than face-to-face contact, facilitated by tools such as telephones, electronic mail or e-mail, webcams, video-conferencing equipment and software or other wired or wireless technologies, or other means of communication to supplement face-to-face contact between a parent and that parent’s minor child.

Facilitator, Family Law Facilitator

A court employee which helps parents without attorneys by providing assistance with common family law forms and giving information about court procedures and other sources of help in their communities.


Turning your legal papers into the clerk of the court.

Financial Affidavit

A sworn statement that contains information regarding your income, expenses, assets and liabilities.


A motion or other legal action that is handled in the courtroom. Parties and attorneys may call witnesses and introduce evidence. A judge will make a decision based on all the evidence and the decision will become a court order.


Each family has certain holidays sand special occasions that it celebrates. a parenting plan would specify who the child will spend holidays with and define each holiday so both parents know when it begins and when it ends.


See Court Order


A meeting with a trained, neutral third party who helps the parties try to solve problems cooperatively. Most courts provide mediation of custody and parenting plan problems for up to a certain amount of hours. Mediation may occur face to face or separately, if necessary. Mediation is confidential. The mediator does not tell the parents what they should do or make a recommendation to the court. Mediation may not be appropriate where there are safety issues or domestic violence concerns.


Modification means change. If you wish to change a previous order of the court, you may file in the court file a petition for Modification of Final Judgment.


A formal request filed with the court. A judge makes a decision to allow or deny the request, usually after a hearing or trial.

Secondary-Residential Parent

The parent with whom the children do not live most of the time.


See Court Order

Parenting Plan

A document that states when the child will be with each parent and how decisions will be made. The parenting plan may be developed by the parents, through mediation, with the help of attorneys, or by a judge after a trial or hearing. See also Custody.

Parenting Time

The actual time a child is scheduled to spend with a parent. during parenting time that parent has primary responsibility for making routine decisions for the child but not major decisions. See also Custody.


A person involved in a court case.

Paternity Complaint

A paper filed in court asking the court to determine that a particular man is the father of a child born to a woman not married to him and also to determine the custody and contact issues relating to the child, to develop a parenting plan and to determine child support.

Primary Residential Parent

Typically, the parent with whom the children live the majority of the time.

Pro Se

Filing legal papers by yourself, without a lawyer. It can also mean appearing in court in front of a judge by yourself, without a lawyer.

Rotating Custody

A parenting arrangement where each parent has the children approximately one-half of the time and neither is designated as the primary residential parent.


See Court Order.

Safety Focused Parenting Plan

Parenting plan especially created for families where there is a mental illness, drug addiction, domestic violence, child abuse, or other circumstances that impact safety of the child or parent. The Florida Judicial Department and State Family Law Advisory Committee are currently developing such a plan. if you determine your situation requires a safety-focused parenting plan, you should consult an attorney.

Self Represented

An individual who files a court case without using the services of an attorney. See Pro Se.

Shared Parental Responsibilities

Defined in the Florida statutes as “a court-ordered relationship in which both parents retain full parental rights and responsibilities with respect to their child and in which both parents confer with each other so that major decisions affecting the welfare of the child will be determined jointly.”

Sole Custody

An arrangement where one parent has the right and responsibility to make major decisions for the welfare of the child.


Laws passed by the state legislature (or adopted by initiative). Most code sections relating to family law are in volumes of the Florida Statutes and are available at the country law library or on the internet.


An agreement between the parties.

Supervised Parenting Plan

Parenting time during which the parent and child must be in the presence of another specified adult while the parent visits. Supervised visitation may be ordered where there has been domestic violence, child abuse, or a threat to take the child out of state. The third party is responsible for making sure that the child is safe and the rules are followed. Sometimes supervision can be arranged and paid for through an agency or provider. Often, a trusted family member or friend will agree to take on the responsibility. Either way, both the parents and the supervisor need to be informed about the requirements, the expectations and what to do in the event of an emergency or if the visit must be ended. Some courts have guidelines for supervised visits. Ask your local clerk or facilitator.

Time-Sharing Schedule

Timetable that must be included in the Parenting Plan that specifies the time, including overnights and holidays, that a minor child(ren) will spend with each parent. The time-sharing schedule shall either be developed and agreed to by the parents of minor child(ren) and approved by the court, or established by the court if the parents cannot agree, or if their agreed-upon schedule is not approved by the court.


A hearing where the judge makes final rulings on issues between the parties.


Term no longer preferred. See Parenting Plan, Parenting Time.

Mental Health


Occurs when two people in a family bring in a third party to dissolve stress (form an alliance with child against other parent and the child becoming the focus of the parent’s attention to avoid addressing their own problems).


Occurs when two people in a family bring in a third party to dissolve stress (form an alliance with child against other parent and the child becoming the focus of the parent’s attention to avoid addressing their own problems).