Sole Parental Responsibility
In recent years, the state of Florida has moved away from using the term “custody” to refer to parental decision-making rights and responsibilities. Instead of using the legal terms sole and joint custody, Florida has now opted for a parenting model centered on the concepts of shared and sole parental responsibility.
Defining Shared and Sole Parental Responsibility
Section 61.046 of The 2017 Florida Statutes helpfully defines both shared parental responsibility and sole parental responsibility. Shared parental responsibility entails a court-ordered relationship that grants both parents full parenting rights and responsibilities regarding their child. Effectively, this means both parents must work together to discuss and decide major decisions that will affect the wellbeing of their child.
Sole parental responsibility, on the other hand, is defined as “a court-ordered relationship in which one parent makes decisions regarding the minor child.” If you are a Florida parent hoping to be awarded sole parental responsibility, it is important to know that Florida courts favor awarding shared parental responsibility.
The Presumption of Florida Courts Is to Award Shared Parental Responsibility
Section 61.13(2)(b) of The 2017 Florida Statutes highlights the fact that shared parental responsibility is statutorily required in the state of Florida unless the court finds awarding shared responsibility would be detrimental to the child’s best interests.
If parent has been convicted of a first degree misdemeanor or higher involving domestic violence, then this creates a rebuttable presumption that shared parental responsibility would create a detriment to the child. If this presumption cannot be rebutted by the convicted parent, then the court will not grant shared parental responsibility rights to the convicted parent.
When there is no finding that the child would suffer a detriment if parents are given shared responsibility, Florida courts have frequently held that awarding sole parental responsibility is inappropriate (Rashid v. Rashid).
As such, it is quite unlikely that a Florida parent will obtain sole parental responsibility in all areas of the child’s life. What is more likely is that a parent can obtain sole responsibility over a specific issue by providing documentation and/or evidence that the child is being negatively impacted by the other parent’s choices.
To list just one example of such a scenario, parents arguing over medical procedures for a child can lead to the court intervening and awarding sole parental responsibility to a parent for the limited purpose of having sole responsibility to make medical decisions. In this way, the issue can be resolved without giving one parent sole parental responsibility for all decisions, merely the single issue at hand if one parent’s opinions are found to be detrimental to the child.
In summary, it is generally not realistic for a parent to obtain sole responsibility while terminating the other parent’s rights completely. There are, however, exceptions to this general rule that may make sole parental responsibility warranted.
If you have questions regarding Tampa family law, or are unaware as to the terms and conditions in, talk to, and retain, a family law attorney who can help. Contact Damien McKinney of The McKinney Law Group to discuss your case further. He can be reached by phone at 813-428-3400 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org