How Is Parental Authority Decided in Florida?
Sole vs Shared Parenting
In Florida, parental authority is determined based on the best interests of the child. Florida law recognizes that both parents have equal rights and responsibilities regarding their children, unless a court orders otherwise.
The process for obtaining sole parental authority can be complex and may involve multiple court hearings and the involvement of a guardian ad litem, who is a person appointed by the court to represent the best interests of the child and funded by one or both parents (the court does not pay for a GAL in family law cases.).
The parent seeking sole parental authority must show evidence that the other parent is unfit to share parental responsibility or that shared parental responsibility would be harmful to the child. Some reasons a parent may seek sole parental authority include:
- Domestic violence or abuse by the other parent
- Neglect or abuse of the child by the other parent
- Substance abuse or addiction by the other parent
- Abandonment by the other parent
- Mental health issues that make it unsafe for the other parent to share parental responsibility
In Florida, the court will consider a range of factors when deciding whether to award sole parental authority to one parent, including:
- The ability of each parent to provide for the child’s physical, emotional, and educational needs
- The child’s relationship with each parent and any siblings or other family members
- Each parent’s mental and physical health
- Any history of domestic violence or abuse by either parent
- The child’s preferences, if the child is old enough to express a preference
- Any other factors that the court deems relevant
If the court awards sole parental authority to one parent, that parent will be responsible for making all major decisions regarding the child’s welfare, including decisions related to education, healthcare, and religious upbringing. The other parent may still have visitation or time-sharing rights with the child, but will not have the right to make major decisions regarding the child’s welfare.
Contact the experienced family attorneys at Rhoden Law Group in Brevard County, Florida. Phone consultations are always a courtesy. You may call or text the office as you prefer 321-549-3162. Attorney Rhoden has been serving Brevard county for decades.