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Can A Parent Get Sole Parental Responsibility Of Their Child In Florida?


According to Florida Statute 61.13, it is the public policy of the state of Florida that every minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both their parents even after their parents decide to divorce or separate. It is the public policy of Florida to encourage parents to share the rights, responsibilities, and joys of parenting. Additionally, Florida does not favor fathers over mothers or vice versa. Due to this, when it comes to making parental responsibility decisions, Florida courts are expected to begin with the presumption that parents should be awarded shared parental responsibility.

So, can a parent get sole parental responsibility in the state of Florida? Yes, even though Florida courts encourage shared parental responsibility, a parent can still be awarded sole parental responsibility in the state of Florida. However, this can only happen when the court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to a child. Generally, Florida courts only award sole parental responsibility in situations where doing so is in the best interests of the involved child(ren).

Shared Versus Sole Parental Responsibility

When parents are awarded shared parental responsibility, they can jointly make major decisions concerning their children’s lives. For example, parents who have been awarded shared parental responsibility can jointly make decisions about their child’s education, religious upbringing, healthcare, etc. The primary purpose of such an arrangement is to ensure both parents remain active in their child’s life.

On the other hand, sole parental responsibility, which is rare in Florida, is when one parent is granted the right to make decisions on behalf of their child without having to consult the child’s other parent. For example, when the court awards sole parental responsibility to a parent, the parent can make decisions about their child’s religious upbringing, education, healthcare, travel plans, etc., without consulting the other parent.

Therefore, it is crucial to note that being granted sole parental responsibility doesn’t mean that the other parent loses their time-sharing rights. The other parent may still get time-sharing rights if the court determines that it is in the child’s best interests to award their other parent such rights. However, if a judge finds that granting the other parent time-sharing rights would be detrimental to the child, he or she will not award such provisions.

Situations Where Sole Parental Responsibility Is Awarded

As already mentioned, Florida courts rarely award sole parental responsibility to parents. However, if shared parental responsibility is not in a child’s best interests, a Florida court may award sole parental responsibility. For example, in a situation where one parent has a history of perpetrating domestic violence, the court may decide to award the other parent sole parental responsibility. Also, if one parent has an alcohol problem, is neglectful, is mentally unstable, or is incapable of providing a child with a stable and safe home, the court may decide to award the other parent sole parental responsibility.

A parent seeking sole parental responsibility in the state of Florida must present compelling evidence to the court.

Contact Us for Legal Help

Whether you want to convince the court to award you sole parental responsibility or that shared parental responsibility is right for your case, you need the help of an attorney. A qualified attorney can assess your case and help you accordingly. Contact a Fort Lauderdale child custody attorney at the office of Joyce A. Julian, P.A., today to schedule a consultation.


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