No matter how contentious or acrimonious a divorce may become, it’s imperative for both parents to make their child’s welfare and best interests the top priority. Experienced Boca Raton parental responsibility lawyer Tina L. Lewert helps her clients craft acceptable child custody arrangements that are in the best interests of both children and parents. As a Florida Board Certified Specialist in Marital and Family Law, Attorney Tina Lewert understands the emotional and difficult issues that must be addressed when determining parental responsibility. It is always best to adhere to a single guiding principle when considering parental responsibility: the best interests of the children. When you contact Lewert Law regarding a divorce or custody case, you can rely on Ms. Lewert’s expertise in creating parenting plans that protect your child while respecting your rights and concerns as a parent.
PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY VS CUSTODY
Florida courts have moved away from using the word “custody” and instead now choose to refer to it as giving “parental responsibility” to the parents of a child. You may hear that the courts have decided to “assign parental responsibility” instead of “award custody” to a parent. This responsibility will last until the child turns 18, unless special circumstances apply to the case.
Florida law has laws regarding child custody and child support and regulates them to protect the child first, then the parent. It is wise to seek help from a qualified Boca Raton parental responsibility lawyer to insure the best outcome for all involved. If your child custody case is brought to trial you will need to rely on your Boca Raton parental responsibility lawyer to understand the Florida child custody laws and to act in your best interest.
SHARED PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY VS SOLE PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY
When it comes to parental rights and responsibilities and child custody, Florida law determines what is best for the children per the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. The laws in each state are different and designed to address both the legal and physical care of children whose parents are divorcing or for parents that have never been married.
Florida courts have two options when it comes to parental responsibility cases: either both parents will have shared responsibilities, or one will have sole responsibility over the child. Sole parental responsibility means that one parent will make all of the decisions regarding the child. The law in Florida generally does not favor a single-parent custody arrangement, although in some circumstances (typically related to child abuse or substance abuse) sole custody may be required to protect the child and the child’s interests.
The policy of the state and the preference of Florida judges is for parents to enter into a shared parental responsibility agreement. Parental responsibility is the right and obligation of both parents to be an important part of their child’s life by consulting with one another and by mutually making the major decisions that affect the child’s life. The law generally presumes that each parent should have equal decision-making rights.
In a shared parental responsibility arrangement, both parents discuss major decisions for their child such as the choice of doctors, medical treatments, childcare, schools, and extra-curricular activities. Judges prefer shared parental responsibility arrangements because they encourage each parent to continue to play a major role in the child’s life even after a divorce. Shared parental arrangements also reduce any tendency for a parent to lose touch or miss a major event in the child’s life.
In shared parental responsibility arrangements, the parents must create a parenting plan. This outlines who will make decisions about the child’s education, healthcare, physical and social well-being. The plan will also detail the time-sharing schedule that has been agreed up on by both parents, and discuss how parents will communicate with the child when they do not have custody, either via phone, email, or other means. The parenting plan can be made by both parents, however if the judge does not agree to it, he can provide his own version of it that will override the parents’ plan. If the two parents cannot agree on an issue in a shared parental responsibility relationship, they may bring the matter to court and have a judge rule on what decision to make. The judge will look at evidence and hear testimony before making a final decision that the parents must then adhere to.
HOW IS PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY DETERMINED?
Deciding between shared and sole parental responsibility it not a decision that the courts in Florida take lightly. The court will look at a number of different factors when making a decision, including but not limited to:
- The ability of each parent to foster a close and continuing parent-child relationship
- The ability of each parent to follow the custody orders and be flexible when changes are needed
- The ability of each parent to act in the child’s best interest and not their own best interests
- The moral fitness of each of the parents
- Both mental and physical health conditions of each of the parents
- The ability of each parent to provide consistency in the child’s life
- The ability and willingness of each parent to keep open lines of communication with the other about the child’s needs
- Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child neglect or any other form of harmful behavior occurring in the home
- The willingness of each parent to be involved in the child’s school and home life
This is not a complete list of factors that may decide how the court awards parental responsibility. Anything that the court views as relevant to the case may be considered.
NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR CHILD
A Boca Raton parental responsibility lawyer with Lewert Law, can explain your options, protect your rights, and help you take the appropriate legal steps toward a brighter future for you and your children. We invite you to schedule an appointment by phone at 561-220-0123 or by e-mail through this website to discuss your needs, options, and legal rights as quickly as possible.