About Child Custody
Many people who visit our offices are surprised to learn that there is no such thing as sole custody, full custody, or even joint custody in Florida. These terms have been used for years to describe the legal relationship between a parent and a child. But that all changed in 2008 when the Florida legislature passed a new law that completely removed terms like child custody, primary residence, and visitation from the statute books.
So, what does this mean for you as a parent? The current law emphasizes the important roles that both parents play in their children’s development through the concept of parental responsibility.
The easiest way to understand parental responsibility is to think about it as the parents’ overall authority to make decisions for minor or dependent children. And within the concept of parental responsibility, there is what we call shared parental responsibility, shared parental responsibility with decision-making authority, and, in more extreme circumstances, sole parental responsibility.
Shared parental responsibility means that both parents retain their full parental rights. They are basically equals in terms of parental authority and have to confer with each other on major child-related decisions so that they can make those decisions together.
Shared parental responsibility with decision-making authority is a lot like shared parental responsibility but with one significant difference. If one parent has special knowledge, training, or experience in an area like medicine or education, the court can give that parent ultimate decision-making authority in those areas.
Sole parental responsibility means that one parent has the exclusive authority to make child-related decisions without having to consult the other parent first.
It’s important to remember that parental responsibility is a separate concept from visitation or timesharing, as it is now known. Even in a case involving sole parental responsibility, the court can still award timesharing to the other parent if doing so is in the best interests of the child.
We understand the unique and important nature of the parent-child relationship. Our office is dedicated to helping parents maintain those relationships by preserving their rights and the rights of their children. Whether you are going through a custody case now or just have a few questions, we’re here to help.
Call us at (954) 430-1868 to schedule your initial consultation with Fort Lauderdale Child Custody Lawyer Andrew Foster so that you can learn more about your rights and options.