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Awarding Sole Parental Responsibility In Florida


In Florida, custody arrangements are divided into two parts: parenting time and parental responsibility. The former refers to how much time each parent spends with the child according to a particular schedule, while the latter, which is traditionally called legal custody, refers to how parents share responsibility for making child-related decisions. With both types of custody, courts prefer shared arrangements, under which both parents have time with their children and both have a say in making important decisions.

There are some situations, however, when judges are willing to award sole parental responsibility to one parent, which means that he or she alone will have the right to make important life decisions for the child. In other words, the other parent won’t have any legal right to influence or direct decisions about the child’s religion, education, or healthcare.

Legal Presumption of Shared Responsibility

In Florida, a judge tasked with assigning parental decision-making authority is required to order shared responsibility unless doing so would be detrimental to the child. Furthermore, there must be substantial competent evidence of detriment before a judge will issue this type of order. For example, just because two parents have a difficult time agreeing on important issues or don’t get along particularly well, doesn’t mean that a judge will award sole parental responsibility to one parent. Instead, the judge will expect the parents to work together, at least when making decisions about their child’s well-being. Parental hostility will not typically be enough to take away legal custody from a parent.

Proof of Detriment

A parent who can prove that one parent’s influence would be detrimental to the child could receive an award of sole parental responsibility. Problems that could support the claim of determinant and weigh against a parent having decision-making authority include:

  • Serious substance abuse issues;
  • Certain mental or physical impairments; or
  • A history of violence or abuse.

There are instances, however, where a judge could base an award of sole decision-making on something less severe or obvious. One parent’s history of disinterest or lack of involvement in a child’s life could, for instance, be enough to satisfy this standard, as could an inability to relate to or understand the child’s needs.

Sole Parental Responsibility

An award of sole parental responsibility to one parent means that the designated individual will have the right to make important decisions about a child’s life, including childcare, healthcare, religion, education, and extracurricular activities. The other parent, on the other hand, will have no say in making these decisions. These decisions have an important impact on a child’s life, making it especially important for both parents to have a thorough understanding of what an award of sole parental responsibility really means.

Meet with a Dedicated Florida Child Custody Lawyer Today

If you are concerned about your former partner’s ability to make decisions for your child, or a co-parent is trying to take away your right to make decisions on your child’s behalf, call dedicated Fort Lauderdale child custody lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. to learn more about your legal options. You can reach us at 954-945-7591, or by completing an online contact form.




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