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Shared Parental Decision-Making


Just because two parents decide to separate does not mean that they automatically give up their parental rights and obligations. How those rights and obligations are shared will, however, depend on the family’s particular situation. Generally, custody is divided into two categories: time-sharing, or physical custody and parental responsibility, or parental decision-making. Even if two parents don’t share physical custody equally, judges usually prefer to award parental responsibility to both parents, on a shared basis.

What Does Parental Responsibility Cover?

Parents who have been awarded shared parental responsibility will need to work together to make decisions about a child’s healthcare, education, religion, and other important issues. When two parents cannot reach an agreement, they will need to take the matter to the courts, where a judge will make the decision on the parties behalf. Courts almost always award some type of shared responsibility in custody cases and are only willing to step away from this standard if shared responsibility would be detrimental to the child. To qualify as detrimental, there must usually be proof of domestic violence or child abuse in the family. Hostility between two parents, for instance, is not enough to constitute a detriment to the child that would justify an award of sole parental responsibility.

Shared Parental Responsibility with Ultimate Decision-Making Authority

Another form of shared legal custody that courts may award involves the granting of shared responsibility to both parents, but the awarding of authority to only one parent to make decisions on certain issues. For instance, two parents could be granted shared decision-making responsibility for issues related to a child’s education or religion, but a court could give one of the parents ultimate decision-making authority on other matters, such as non-emergency healthcare issues. Trial courts are generally not, however, allowed to grant shared parental responsibility, but grant ultimate decision-making authority to one parent on major life issues, as this is deemed to be a form of sole parental responsibility.

Dividing Responsibilities Equally

Parents who share parental responsibility could also agree to divide decision-making authority by specific areas of responsibility. One parent, for instance, could agree to handle the child’s extracurricular activities, while the other parent would have responsibility for making educational decisions, with the remaining areas shared equally between the parties. This often proves to be a good option for parents who don’t get along or who have an acrimonious relationship.

Call Today for Help with Your Case

Child custody-related decisions are some of the most difficult issues that a divorcing couple will have to address. Fortunately, you don’t have to work through these problems on your own, but can seek the aid of a dedicated attorney, who can help you obtain the result that is best for your family. To learn more about how an experienced Florida shared parental responsibility lawyer could help with your own custody case, please call Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591, or reach out to us via online message.


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