Within child custody plans in Florida, the guidelines for parental decision-making are set in place. Not only does the parenting plan address each parent’s daily responsibilities and the time-sharing agreement, but also their decision-making responsibilities.
If divorcing parents who share custody cannot agree on the latter, the court will intervene as it has the discretion to determine decision-making rights. A judge’s main criteria: the best interest of the child and which arrangement would be most productive.
Decisions that require parents’ attention include the child’s education, health care matters, child care, religion as well as other responsibilities unique to each family. In carefully reviewing each situation, the judge may rule that one parent may have authority in certain areas, while the other parent does not.
With joint child custody in place, Florida courts typically favor the shared responsibility approach in which both parents make child-related decisions. Judges prefer this route because it keeps each parent actively involved in the child’s life.
Sole parental responsibility
However, in extreme cases, some parents are granted sole parental responsibility. If the parent has sole custody of the child, that parent – and that parent alone — has decision-making responsibility and does not have to consult with the other parent. Judges resort to sole parental responsibility in family situations that may include domestic violence, child abuse, child abandonment, substance abuse and mental and physical health conditions.
Working together or not
Once a divorce occurs, a plan must be in place regarding decision-making matters that affect the children. Will parents share in the decision-making or will only one parent have that decision-making responsibility? If parents can work together and display to a judge that they can do so, it likely will be the former.