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Parental Responsibility: Shared, Ultimate, or Sole?

Chapter 61 of Florida Statutes covers an array of topics that surround parenting issues, to include parental decision making for minor children.

Every family and every case has a different set of circumstances but the consistent factor throughout the court’s consideration in a parenting plan is the best interests of the children. When it comes to parental responsibility, the best interests of the child vary from case to case.

Shared parental responsibility is most commonly seen and prescribed by the courts as an effort to promote the child having the involvement and consideration of both parents in any major decision made on behalf of the child. Often, it is most beneficial for both parents to coordinate and discuss any major decision for the child, together, and resolving such as a unified front.

However, there are times in which it may become detrimental to the child if the parents aren’t able to agree on a major decision or if there is reason that one parent should not be participating in said decisions. These are the circumstances in which the court may consider an alternative route to shared parental responsibility in appointing one parent to have ultimate decision making authority or sole parental responsibility, individually by topic or across the board.

Shared parental responsibility with ultimate decision-making authority allows for a combined effort. Both parents must still attempt to discuss and resolve any issues with regard to major decisions, together, but in the event of an impasse, one parent will be designated to have the final say. Again, this can be issued by the court with regard to specific topics, such as non-emergent medical decisions, or across the board for all major decisions. However, the party requesting this from the court must establish with substantial evidence that shared parental responsibility would be a detriment to the child.

Sole parental responsibility eliminates the combined effort from both parents and allows one parent to make a major decisions or all major decisions, unilaterally. Often, we will see this in scenarios in which substantial evidence has shown that the other parent is incapable of managing the child’s best interests and that it would serve as a detriment to the child should that parent have a role in major decision making. However, the party seeking sole parental responsibility from the court still has a high burden to establish that the other parent’s involvement in decision making would be a detriment to the child.

The Rice Law Firm’s Family Division has handled many cases in which parental responsibility becomes a major issue.  Our attorneys have served the Daytona Beach, Volusia County, and Flagler County areas since 1986. Contact us today at our Daytona Beach location at 386-310-2914.