Sole responsibility describes the situation where one parent makes decisions regarding the child without input from the other parent. This includes minor decisions that need to be made on a day-to-day basis, as well as all major decisions.
Sole parental responsibility will be given to one parent if the judge decides that shared parental responsibility would be harmful to the child. The court will consider evidence of domestic violence or child abuse, neglect, or abandonment in making her decision. The court may order time-sharing that will best protect the child or abused spouse from further harm, and that may result in a no time-sharing order.
Children’s best interests
- Ability to create a stable home, provide necessities and meet the children’s needs;
- Relationship with the children;
- Willingness to allow the children contact with the other parent;
- Physical and mental health;
- Commitment to not involving the children in legal proceedings;
- History of child abuse, domestic violence, or substance abuse.
If children have sufficient maturity, emotional intelligence, and awareness of the situation, the judge or magistrate may take their preferences into account.
The parent who does not receive responsibility typically still receives parenting time, though it may need to be supervised or otherwise restricted. Their child support obligation continues.
Termination of parental rights
It may be a fine line between the kind of behavior that may result in a sole parental responsibility order from the court and behavior resulting in a termination of parental rights. Such cases involve severe child abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Florida’s dependency court, not the family court, makes such decisions.
The dependency court has the power to terminate parental rights. These cases typically involve the Department of Children and Families and other law enforcement agencies.
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