A major issue between parents who split up is who will get custody of their child. In many cases, if you do not particularly like the other parent or believe he or she may be irresponsible in some way, you may want to obtain sole custody rights. However, getting sole custody in Florida is extremely difficult.
In order to understand why this is the case, you should have a basic understanding of custody laws in Florida. First, there are two different aspects to child custody:
- Physical custody: the time you spend with your child visiting you or living with you; and
- Legal custody: the right to be a part of major decisions in the child’s life, including schooling, activities, religion, and medical care.
In Florida, physical custody is called “parenting time” and legal custody is often referred to as “parental responsibility.” How these rights are divided between parents is set out in a parenting plan that must be approved by the courts.
Florida law greatly favors joint parenting rights whenever possible and whenever it is in the best interests of the child. It is very difficult to demonstrate that denying one parent of any custody rights will be in the best interest of the child. Doing so will essentially terminate the rights of the other parent and that can only happen in very rare circumstances. Such circumstances may include a history of violent crime, serious abuse or neglect, substance abuse or addiction, or mental health disorders. Even under those circumstances, a court can allow the parent to have visits with the child that are supervised to ensure the child’s safety.
Trying to fight for sole custody requires you to show significant evidence that the parent is unfit to have any parenting rights to the court. Not only can these hearings involve airing personal dirty laundry in open court, but they can be extremely costly and time-consuming. An attorney can help you carefully consider if striving for sole custody is worth it in your situation. Instead of sole custody, you could seek one of the following solutions:
- Supervised visitation;
- No overnight visits with the parent if their lifestyle or living arrangement is questionable;
- The sole authority to make decisions for your child if the other parent cannot make rational and practical decisions.
- Shared custody with the condition of psychological evaluations or drug tests.
Contact a Knowledgeable Florida Child Custody Lawyer Today
While it may not be possible to obtain sole custody rights in many situations, there are cases that warrant such a determination. Boca Raton family law attorney Alan R. Burton will evaluate your situation and advise on whether seeking sole custody would be appropriate in your case. Even if you do not get full custody rights, we can fight to ensure proper restrictions are put in place to protect the wellbeing of your child. Please call for a free consultation at 954-229-1660 to learn more about our family law services today.