• SHARED PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY
FOR CHILDREN - Custody and Visitation
It is the public policy of Florida to ensure each minor child has
frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents
have separated or divorced, and to encourage parents to share the
rights and responsibilities of child rearing. The father is given
the same consideration as the mother in determining custody regardless
of their child's age, sex, or other factors.
In most cases, parental responsibility for a minor child will be
shared by both parents so that each retains full parental rights
and responsibilities with respect to their child. This requires
both parents to confer so that major decisions affecting the welfare
of the child will be determined jointly.
You and your spouse may agree, or the court may order, that one
parent have the ultimate responsibility over specific aspects of
the child's welfare, such as education, religion, removal from the
area, and medical and dental needs. If the parents have a substantial
conflict over any of these areas the court will decide for them.
The court can order varying types of shared parenting arrangements
depending on the evidence presented. The court may designate one
parent's home as the primary residence and afford the other parent
frequent and continuing contact, or, the court may order rotating
custody where the time spent with each parent is equal.
In rare cases, the court can order total parental responsibility
and custody to one parent. To do so, the court must determine that
shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child.
The court may award to the child's grandparents certain visitation
rights if it is deemed by the court to be in the child's best interest.
Thereafter, the grandparents have the right to seek judicial enforcement
of the visitation rights. The court may award grandparents visitation
rights after the parents divorce, when it is in the best interest
of the grandchild or when one or both parents of the child are deceased;
or, when a parent of the child has deserted the child.
In considering issues between parents and their children, the best
interest of the child is the primary consideration by the courts.
The Florida Bar has developed a consumer pamphlet entitled "Shared
Parenting After Divorce," which discusses the subject. For
instructions on ordering, see the back cover of this pamphlet.