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When to Not Have Equal Shared Parental Responsibility

Florida law describes child custody as “shared parental responsibility,” and the main purpose of the concept is to ensure that the child of a divorce has constant, frequent contact with both parents. The family courts in Florida presume that shared parental responsibility should exist in every child custody case; however, there are times when shared parental responsibility should not be split equally, or given to one parent entirely.

Public Purpose of Shared Parental Responsibility

According to Section 61.13 of the Florida Code, public policy dictates that “each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing.” This is now known in Florida family law court as shared parental responsibility.

The court presumes that shared parental responsibility should be split equally amongst the parents, and no preference is given to either parent regarding care. However, there are instances provided in the law when the presumption of shared responsibility can be overcome by one parent for the sake of the child.

Overcoming the Presumption

The same section of Florida law also provides instances of when a parent can overcome the court presumption that parental responsibility should be shared equally by the parents. One such exemption is if a parent can prove that the other parent has been convicted of a misdemeanor of the first degree or a felony for domestic violence. If there is no conviction of domestic violence or child abuse, the court can still take any evidence of such activity into account when determining the appropriateness of shared parental responsibility.

Another instance when the shared parental responsibility can be overcome is defined in Section 39.806 of Florida law. When a parent is incarcerated and either “will constitute a significant portion of the child’s minority [or] has been determined by the court to be a violent career criminal . . . a habitual violent felony offender . . . or a sexual predator . . . has been convicted of first degree or second degree murder or a sexual battery that constitutes a capital, life, or first degree felony” the other parent filing for divorce can overcome the presumption of shared parental responsibility.

In these cases, a rebuttable presumption is created that assumes that shared parental responsibility would actually be detrimental to the child. If the presumption of shared parental responsibility is overcome, one parent is then mostly or completely responsible for decisions regarding time-sharing and care. However, it is important to note that removal of shared parental responsibility does not relieve that parent of making child support contributions for care. It simply removes their decision making ability regarding the child’s life.

Contact a Family Law Attorney Today

If you or someone that you know has questions regarding shared parental responsibility or other questions of family law in the Orlando area, contact Steve W. Marsee, P.A. We are prepared to help you through each step of your case.

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