Sole vs. Shared Parental Responsibility

Sole vs Shared Parental Responsibility in Florida

By Michael J. Costantino, Esq.

Identifying the difference between Sole Parental Responsibility vs. Shared Parental Responsibility under Florida Family Law

Divorce has several effects on the entire family as several adjustments become mandatory in the lives of all members of the family especially if children are involved. Child custody arrangement is a crucial part of any divorce situation where children are involved. If you have a divorce case ongoing and have children, it is essential that you know how divorce will affect child custody and parental responsibility.

In a majority of divorce case shared parental responsibility is almost always the rule. However, sole parental responsibility can be decided by the court under certain circumstances.  The underlying reason for deciding shared parental responsibility is because it is in the best interest of the child to have both parents involved in the life of a child. Florida doesn’t use the old distinctions of primary custody or primary residential parent, as these terms indicate that one parent has more parental authority than the other.

If you have shared parental responsibility you should be conferring and making major decisions jointly for your child or children. Shared parental responsibility implies that the parents can discuss and make major decisions affecting the child. These decisions are such that have long-term effects in the life of the child such as education, health, religious affiliation, leaving school, taking a part-time employment, going to college, etc.

Sole parental responsibility indicates that one parent does not only have child custody but also has exclusive authority to make major decisions about a child without consulting with the other parent. This arrangement is made in situations when it is the best for the child’s sake, such as when a parent abuses or neglects the child, is not responsible, has untreated drug abuse issue, or other reason backed by evidence that may be detrimental to the child.

Before giving child custody and sole parental responsibility to a parent, the court is required to determine based on evidence; that the other parent is unfit to participate in the child parenting and that shared parental responsibility would not be helpful to the best interests of the child.

The services of an experienced divorce attorney with knowledge in custody issues are crucial. He or she will not only help in getting child custody and appropriate parental responsibility but also to create a parenting plan in compliance with the law regarding parental responsibility and time-sharing.