Divorce is always an emotional experience, but adding in the stress of figuring out child custody can turn a simple divorce into a nightmare. Parents have much stronger feelings about where their children end up than they have about material possessions, so compromises are more difficult to reach. In Florida, child custody comprises two distinct parts: parental responsibility (legal custody) and time sharing (physical custody). All parents asking for divorce must agree on both parts of child custody, or the court will do it for them.
Parental responsibility, or legal custody, refers to the ability to make decisions about important parts of the child’s life, such as education, healthcare, and religion. Parental responsibility is typically divided equally between the two parents unless there are special circumstances. For example, if one parent has shown a pattern of making poor choices for the child, their parental responsibility may be lessened and more control given to the other parent. Also, if one parent spends substantially more time with the child as part of the time-sharing agreement, that parent may also be awarded more parental responsibility. (more…)