How Do Florida Courts Determine Parental Responsibilities? Orlando Divorce Lawyer
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How Do Florida Courts Determine Parental Responsibilities?


When a divorce involves minor children, the divorcing parents must establish a child custody order with the court. Florida courts recognize two types of custody:

  • Legal custody (parental responsibility)
  • Physical custody (parental time)

Parental responsibilities are a fundamental part of child custody orders in Florida. It is vital to consult with an experienced Orlando child custody attorney to help you determine parental responsibilities.

What Are Parental Responsibilities in Child Custody Cases?

Child custody can be awarded either to one parent or shared by both parents. Physical custody, also known as parenting time, refers to who the minor children live with following a divorce and how time spent with the children will be divided between the parents. Legal custody, also known as parental responsibility, refers to parents’ ability to make major decisions for the kids.

Typically, parental responsibilities are specified in a custody agreement and parenting plan. Essentially, sharing parental responsibilities after a divorce means working together to make major decisions regarding the child.

Divorced parents may have joint legal custody rights even when they do not share physical custody.

What Parental Responsibilities Do Divorced Parents Have?

Divorcing parents with minor children must prepare a parenting plan and submit it to the court to obtain the judge’s approval. Both parents are required to sign the plan for it to be considered legally binding.

If the divorcing couple cannot reach an agreement regarding their parenting plan, including how their parental responsibilities will be split, a court will develop the plan for the parents. Typically, parenting plans contain all of the following:

  1. How the parents will share day-to-day responsibilities when caring for the children;
  2. The established time-sharing schedule that determines when each parent will spend time with the kids;
  3. Which parent will be responsible for the child’s healthcare and education; and
  4. The manner in which parents will communicate with the kids.

How Do Florida Courts Determine Parental Responsibilities?

Under Fla. Stat. § 61.13, divorced parents should both have parental responsibilities unless the court determines that it would be in the child’s best interests if only one parent had parental responsibilities. In many cases, parents will negotiate a parenting plan without court involvement. The agreed-upon parenting plan will be submitted to the court for approval.

If the judge determines that the parenting plan is in the best interests of the child, the plan will be approved. If the parents are not able to agree upon a plan, the court will develop the plan for the parents.

The parental responsibilities contained in the parenting plan will be based on what is best for the child. In addition to considering the child’s best interests, the court will consider other factors, such as the child’s expressed preference to live with one parent. The judge may also choose to award sole parental responsibility to one parent regardless of the agreements between the parents.

Determining child custody and parental responsibilities is a tricky matter, which is why it is advisable to consult with a skilled attorney. Speak with our Orlando child custody attorney at Arwani Law Firm to talk about your case. Call 407-254-0060.


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