father with sole custody of child

Is Sole Custody Available in Florida?

All too often, child custody, otherwise referred to as parenting responsibility, becomes the battleground of a heated divorce. People are, understandably, especially protective of and emotional when it comes to things involving their kids. There are big decisions being made in divorce proceedings that will fundamentally impact the family structure, parenting time, and parenting responsibilities. In the midst of so many big things going on, a parent may fight for what they will call “sole custody.” Is sole custody, however, available in Florida?

Is there sole custody available in Florida? 

Sole custody no longer exists in Florida. The term “sole custody” has not been used in Florida for years. Sole parental responsibility, however, does exist and it is what is used to describe a situation where one parent seeks the retention of full parenting rights and responsibilities with respect to their child. When a parent has sole parental responsibility, he or she has complete authority to make decisions for the child. There is no need to consult the other parent when making major life choices impacting the child.

While sole parental responsibility is available in Florida, it is very much the exception to the rule. It is, in fact, rare in Florida for a court to permit one parent to essentially being cut out from a child’s life. This is because it is the job of the court to rule in a way that serves the best interests of the child. In most cases, this means both parents playing a role in his or her life.

A court will order sole parenting responsibility in cases where one parent has been proven to be unfit. This may be the case if a parent has been convicted of a third-degree felony or higher involving an incidence of domestic violence. It may also be the case when a parent has proven himself or herself to be dangerously unreliable and irresponsible or if it has been shown that he or she is an alcoholic or habitual substance abuser. If it can be shown that a parent is dangerous for a child to be around, then the court may deem the parent unfit and award sole parental responsibility to the other parent.

The alternative to sole parental responsibility, and what is granted in the vast majority of cases, is shared parental responsibility. With shared parenting responsibilities, both parents retain rights and responsibilities in regards to their shared minor child. This means that both parents must reach mutually agreed-upon resolutions regarding major decisions impacting the welfare of the child. 

Florida Family Law Attorneys

Do you have more questions regarding custody and parenting responsibility determinations? Reach out to the knowledgeable family law attorneys at Orlando Family Team. Whether it be to answer your questions or provide you with trusted legal advice as we work to always protect your best interests, we remain committed to serving you and your family. Contact us today.