The Florida Family law specifically does not make a designation of “custody” of a child; rather the courts require a parenting plan that sets forth each parent’s responsibility for making major decisions affecting the children and a time-sharing schedule detailing when the children will spend time with each parent. The court can order sole parental responsibility, shared parental responsibility, or shared parental responsibility with one parent having ultimate decision-making authority for some or all decisions affecting the children.
Sole Parental Responsibility – If you have sole parental responsibility you are responsible for making all major decisions affecting the children, such as who their health care providers are and what school they attend. The other may or may not have parenting time, including supervised time or supervised exchanges.
Shared Parental Responsibility – You and your former spouse (partner) will share equally in the decision-making for your children. This means that you and the other parent are required to discuss major decisions and come to an agreement about those decisions. If you and the other parent are unable to reach an agreement, you may need to return to mediation or to court for the decision to be made by the judge.
There is time the court will award shared parental responsibility with one parent have the ultimate decision-making over certain decisions. This means that the parent with ultimate decisions making will still have an obligation to inform and discuss with the other parent before exercising his or her decision-making. The burden then shifts to the other parent to go to court if he or she disagrees with the decision.
The court will typically award shared parental responsibility unless you can prove that it is not in the children’s best interests. The Florida Legislature has determined that is presumed to be in the best interests of the children for both parents to play an active role in the lives of the children.
For help with custody, call (239) 309-2006 to speak with a family law attorney at the Law Offices of Cavanaugh & Cavanaugh, P.A.