One of the biggest fears of divorcing parents is losing their child to their ex during the process. This fear is understandable, but it’s important to know that it doesn’t reflect the reality of how Florida courts usually work when it comes to divorce and children. The courts in Florida always try to award parental responsibility and time-sharing to both parents because this is generally in the best interest of the child.
Parental responsibility and time-sharing
First, it’s important to understand the terms used. In Florida, parental responsibility is the right that parents have to decide on the child’s education, healthcare and religious upbringing. Time-sharing is the right a parent has to spend time with the child. Divorcing couples have the option to try to come up with a plan for their children themselves. When divorcing couples cannot reach common ground, the court will make the decisions surrounding parental responsibility and time-sharing.
The court’s decision
The court’s decision is always based on the child’s best interests. As mentioned, usually the courts grant both parents time-sharing and parental responsibility. However, there are situations in which the court may order only one parent to have parental responsibility. A parent could lose parental responsibility if they:
- Have a conviction of a misdemeanor of the first degree or higher involving domestic violence
- Have abandoned the child for more than 60 days
- Have abused or neglected the child
- Have a history of abusive use of alcohol or another controlled substance
- Have subjected their child or another child to aggravated or sexual child abuse
- Have committed a felony that resulted in serious bodily injury to their child or another child
- Have a conviction for a sexual offense
Overall, a parent could lose parental responsibility if their involvement in the child’s life damages their wellbeing, physical, mental or emotional health
A parent who loses parental responsibility does not necessarily have to lose time-sharing. The court may only deny you time-sharing with your child if you have a conviction for a sexual offense.
The option for future modification
The court will not restrict parental responsibility or time-sharing unless they believe that it could harm the child. If parental responsibility or time-sharing is restricted, it is possible to ask the court for a modification in future.