When two parents get divorced in Florida, they are typically required to create a parenting plan that establishes each of their roles regarding decisions about their child.Click To Tweet
The plan should assign responsibility to matters regarding health care, education, and the child’s emotional well-being. A parenting plan should also include a time-sharing schedule that sets up when the child will spend time with each parent. This schedule should have information on how the child will communicate with each parent, whether by phone, email, or some other method.
Once parents have created their parenting plan, the plan must be agreed upon by both parents and approved by the court. Generally, the courts favor plans that allow both parents to spend time with their child, unless the court determines that shared parental responsibility could have a negative impact on the child’s emotional and physical well-being. In such a situation, the court may award sole parental responsibility to the dependable parent.
Sole parental responsibility—sometimes referred to as “sole custody”—means that one parent will be charged with the care and decisions regarding the child without input from the other. While Florida courts will usually not cut off the other parent’s rights to see their child entirely, they may implement supervised or restricted visitation rights and other common-sense provisions to ensure the safety of the child.
It is usually very difficult to obtain sole custody or sole parental responsibility of a child, since courts in Florida believe that children should have frequent and continuing contact with both their parents unless it would be harmful to the child. If you are seeking sole parenting responsibility of your child, you must demonstrate a clear and compelling reason why the other parent may be a threat to their well-being.
Possible Reasons for Sole Custody
A court may award sole custody or sole parenting responsibilities to one parent if the judge decides that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child. Possible reasons that a court may decide to award sole parenting responsibility include:
Domestic violence. If your ex-spouse has a history of violence or sexual abuse, and has abused you, your child, or another child, this presents a clear threat to the well-being of the child. If you can demonstrate your former spouse has a history of domestic violence, you may be able to obtain sole parenting responsibility.
Neglect. You may be demonstrate that your former partner is neglectful if you can provide evidence of his or her history of failing to provide your child with proper supervision, food, medical care, or other important protections.
Drug or alcohol abuse. If your ex has a problem with alcohol or drug abuse, you may be able to prove that this problem prohibits him or her from being able to protect, care for, or make important decisions regarding your child.
Dangerous mental illness. You may be able to prove that the other parent threatens the safety of your child if he or she is mentally unstable or irrational. For instance, a parent who threatens to kidnap the child or commit suicide may be deemed dangerous.
How to Obtain Sole Custody
While obtaining sole custody or sole parenting responsibility of a child is rarely an easy task, it may be possible with the help of an experienced Florida family lawyer. If you are seeking sole custody of your child, you should follow the steps below.
Hire an attorney. Your first move should be to find an attorney with experience in Florida child custody proceedings. Your attorney can listen to your situation and explain your options in an upfront, honest manner. Together, you can determine whether your goal of obtaining sole custody is realistic before developing a powerful strategy to support your case.
Gather evidence. Your attorney can help you collect the information and evidence you need to convince the court of your position. To build a strong case, you’ll need compelling evidence that your former spouse has been abusive, neglectful, or otherwise harmful to your child’s well-being.
Present your case. Pulling from years of experience and a comprehensive knowledge of Florida family law, your lawyer can negotiate your case in court in a clear and persuasive manner. Your attorney can present evidence to the judge that demonstrates why you should be awarded full parental responsibility, defending your rights as a parent and the safety of your child. With a seasoned family attorney on your side, you are in a better position to obtain the results you want.
Don’t put your child at risk by attempting to navigate your Florida child custody battle alone. Contact a Florida family attorney to begin preparing your case and protecting your family today.