In Florida, a parenting plan must be submitted to be approved by the courts outlining where the child will live, where the child will go to school, as well as who will make decisions regarding the child’s wellbeing. A parent cannot be simply cut off from their child as Florida law presumes that it is in the best interest of the child to have quality time with each parent.
Sole Custody in Florida
Sole Custody is not a term that is used in Florida courts, but there is the ability to get sole responsibility and limited or supervised time sharing. The courts have the ability to authorize an agreement that will allow one parent the responsibility of making decisions for the child’s well being, and the other parent’s responsibilities and time sharing will be limited in certain ways. There are several factors that come into play for the courts to make a decision to grant this type of request:
Drug Abuse and Addiction
If one parent has a history of drug abuse or addiction, a parent has a good chance of being granted a 100% time sharing agreement. A parent who suffers from addiction often has a hard time taking care of themselves, let alone taking care of a child. The courts believe that an addict should be focusing on themselves and getting better before they should be allowed to have time with their child. They are likely a danger to the welfare and emotional well being of the child, and their rights should be restricted.
Domestic Violence or Physical Abuse
Florida courts recognize domestic violence and physical abuse not just of the person who was abused, but of the children of someone who has been abused. If there has been domestic abuse in a relationship between two parents, and the children have witnessed such events, the courts can place restrictions on joint custody. Because there is no scientific test to prove domestic violence, this type of evidence may require testimony from the abused spouse, third party witnesses, or photos of injuries.
If a parent has a history of mental illness that makes it difficult for that parent to take care of themselves, they are likely unable to care for a child as well. The issues surrounding a parent’s mental health have often contributed to the separation of the parents in the first place. Cases where serious mental illnesses are in play such as schizophrenia or severe depression often take on priority status to protect the child.
In order for a court to hear cases that involve the reduction of parental responsibility and time sharing, the information surrounding any drug abuse, domestic violence, or mental illness must be documented properly for the courts. This could involve drug tests, arrest records, and mental health records. This is very important to establish the specific conditions that allow one parent to have 100% time sharing for the child. The courts will often order treatments for a parent to be able to fix problem areas of their life. In the event that a parent is able to right their wrongs and resolve their issues, the offending parent has the ability to ask for a more liberal schedule that would allow them to visit their child.
Plan of Action
There are important steps for a parent to take if they feel that it is in their child’s best interest to establish a custody order of this type. The first step is to meet with a qualified attorney to discuss what is happening and how to remove an offending parent from a child’s life. This would allow you the opportunity to see your particular situation would be interpreted by Florida law and which recommendations you would make to the court.
The next step is to determine if this is something that you can afford to fight for. Obtaining a custody agreement of this type is often not easy, and you will need an aggressive attorney on your side to determine. You may also need to document a history of issues that will help to establish the need for this type of order.
The last step would be to evaluate any alternatives that may be present if there are not enough available funds or evidence to substantiate such a claim. There are likely alternatives that will serve both you and your child as the Florida courts do not typically encourage this type of parenting plan.
This type of custody arrangement is often difficult to obtain, but not unheard of. If you are seeking this type of parenting plan, Seff & Capizzi Law Group has the ability to assist with your situation. At Seff & Capizzi Law Group, we regularly assist clients and provide valuable information for those that need assistance in understanding how to approach this particular situation in their own lives.
If you need assistance with your divorce or child custody case, please call us at (954) 920-9220. We have over 40 years of experience and offer a free consultation. Click here for more information about our family law practice and how Seff & Capizzi can help.