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Parental Responsibility

Under the dissolution of marriage statute in the state of Florida, when the parties have minor children, one of the first matters that must be decided and made part of what is called the Parenting Plan, is parental responsibility for their children. This addresses the issues of access to information and decision making authority for the children, regardless of the time-sharing breakdown or time-sharing arrangement of the children between the two parents after the dissolution of marriage is finalized, and while the children are minors. The presumption under Florida law is what is referred to as shared parental responsibility, which refers to joint access and joint-decision making between the parents as to the decisions effecting the welfare and upbringing for their children. This would include, for example, educational or health/medical decisions for the children, and that in addition to both parents hav ing access to records and information, and being able to confer with third-persons such as teachers, counselors, and medical personnel, the parents also conferring and agreeing jointly as to course of actions for the children. There is another category under Florida law relating to parental responsibility called sole parental responsibility, but this is reserved for really the minority of cases, and usually seen where one parent has abandoned the children, or where under the particular facts of a case it would be detrimental to the children for the court to order or approve shared parental responsibility.

While many parents are able to work together under the umbrella of shared parental responsibility, there are cases where they cannot, and such issues can become the focus of post-judgment litigation back to the state family court that entered the Final Judgment and Parenting Plan, but also, under unique situations, to Federal Court. In early April of this year, for example, a Mother filed legal action, in Federal Court in the Southern District of Florida, seeking to stop a state court Judge’s decision to allow the child’s Father to circumcise their now 4-year old child. Initially, under the parties’ state court Parenting Plan, the Mother had agreed to such procedure for the child, but now has not agreed to such. The Judge in the state family law case ordered that the Father could proceed with the procedure, but the Mother’s Federal law suit alleges that such procedure is a violation of the child’s civil rights.
If you would like to discuss issues of parental responsibility and how the law may effect your case or situation, please give us a call at 386.257.1222 to schedule a consultation.

Posted April 27, 2015