In 2008, the Florida Legislature abolished the term “custody” and replaced it with the concept of “time-sharing.” This concept refers to the amount of time each parent physically spends with the child. However, there is another side to a parent’s relationship with his or her child, and that is where parental responsibility comes in. Parental responsibility is the right of a parent to make important day-to-day decisions that affect the child’s life, regardless of the time-sharing schedule. Some examples are: which doctor will care for the child; what types of vaccines the child will receive; which school the child will attend, and which extra-curricular activities the child will participate in. There are generally two types of parental responsibility:
Shared Parental Responsibility
This is when both parents have equal say regarding decisions that will impact the child. Access to records and information pertaining to the child, like medical, dental, and school records, may not be denied to either parent. The court will generally order Shared Parental Responsibility, unless the court finds that it will be detrimental to the child. An example of detriment is if a parent has been convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor or higher involving domestic violence.
Sole Parental Responsibility
This is when only one parent has the final say regarding decisions that will impact the child. However, courts will generally require that parent to keep the other parent informed of the decisions he or she makes, even if that other parent is not involved in the decision-making. Sole parental responsibility is ordered when the court has found that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child. However, the parent without parental responsibility still has the right to access the child’s records and information.
A court may order different combinations of time sharing and parental responsibility. For example, a court may decide that one parent will have majority time-sharing with the child, while the other parent has less, but then still order shared parental responsibility. This means that, although one parent sees the child less, he or she still has equal decision-making rights over the child. Conversely, a court may order that, although a parent will have a fair amount of time-sharing with the child, only the other parent will have sole parental responsibility. So, although both parents are seeing the child, only one parent will have decision-making rights.
Whether you are seeking to protect your child by limiting the other parent’s parental responsibility, or seeking to protect your own rights by defending your freedom to parent your child, Strategic Family Attorney, P.A., is here to help. Contact us for a consultation.