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Can I Get Sole Custody of My Kids in Florida?

In the past, family courts typically favored one parent regarding custody arrangements and child support. However, now courts recognize the need for both parents to be involved in their children’s lives. Florida courts have specifically eliminated phrases such as “visitation” and “custody” in favor of terms like “time-sharing” and “parental responsibility.” With this change, “sole custody” is no longer utilized. Instead, sole custody is referred to as “sole parental responsibility.” Florida courts favor time-sharing arrangements where both parents remain active parts of their children’s lives whenever possible. However, there are some situations where a child’s safety is at risk if both parents share time and responsibilities equally. In those cases, parental responsibility may be awarded to one parent. Below, we answer some of the most common questions regarding sole parental responsibility during a Florida divorce. 

What is Sole Parental Responsibility?

Sole parental responsibility is when one parent is the primary decision maker regarding the children’s upbringing, including religious beliefs, healthcare, and medical decisions. A parent with sole responsibility makes all decisions regarding schooling, healthcare, daily routines, living arrangements, and travel. The other parent may still be able to visit their children in this scenario. 

How Difficult is it to Have Sole Parental Responsibility in Florida? 

It’s rare to be awarded sole parental responsibility in Florida. The courts emphasize that both parents should be involved in their children’s lives. Sole parental responsibility is only granted under specific circumstances where the children may be in danger when they’re with the other parent. 

When is Sole Parental Responsibility Awarded?

Sole parental responsibility may be granted when one parent displays behavior that puts their children in danger. This could include an unsanitary or unstable living situation, an inability to adhere to a consistent schedule (such as failure to bring the children to school or activities), drug or alcohol misuse by the parent, or abuse or neglect toward the children. 

How Do I Apply for Sole Parental Responsibility?

Parental responsibility is awarded during divorce proceedings. When you file the dissolution of marriage petition, you should outline your intention to request sole parental responsibility and state why you believe it should be awarded. Your ex-spouse will either agree with the petition or submit a counter-petition. Details of sole parental responsibility should be indicated in your parenting plan, which is submitted to the family court for approval before the divorce can be finalized.

You can also file for temporary sole parental responsibility if you file a domestic injunction to prevent abuse from your former partner. 

Can I Receive Child Support if I Have Sole Parental Responsibility?

Yes. Child support is awarded in most divorce cases, even when parents share joint custody. You would likely be eligible to receive child support payments if you have sole parental responsibility. 

Peppler Law, P.A.—Child Custody Lawyer in Central Florida

Custody arrangements are one of the most complex parts of navigating divorce proceedings. When emotions are high and issues are complicated, you need a trusted family law attorney to help you and your children achieve the best possible outcome. Call our office or contact us online for an initial consultation to discuss your divorce case. 

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