There are two types of custody (referred to as “parental responsibility”) in Florida: Shared parental responsibility means that both parents have complete parental rights and responsibilities. They agree to work together to jointly determine major decisions affecting the child (§ 61.046.17, Fla. Stat. ). The parents divide their time with the child in a manner that ensures the child has frequent, ongoing, regular contact with both parents. They do not necessarily have to share their time with the child equally. Sole parental responsibility means that only one parent will make decisions regarding the child. The child will typically live with the parent with sole parental responsibility for the majority of time, while the other parent will be able to exercise visitation rights (§ 61.046.18, Fla. Stat. ).
Regardless of the type of visitation or the conditions of the time-sharing schedule, the State of Florida recognizes the need for a child to have meaningful, ongoing relationships with both parents. As parents, you are expected to act reasonably and make an effort to provide as much direct contact and positive involvement as possible between the child and the other parent, which includes the child’s activities. You aren’t expected to sit with your ex at your child’s soccer game, but both of you should be afforded the opportunity to attend the event. The law also provides additional methods of communication between a parent and child besides physical visitation:
- A right to reasonable telephone access will normally be included in a court order (§ 61.13003.1(b), Fla. Stat. ).
- An order may also be made to allow electronic communication between the child and the parents (§ 61.13003.1(a), Fla. Stat. ).
Prior to ordering electronic communication, the court will consider whether or not it is in the best interest of the child, the feasibility of electronic communications, and whether or not facilitating the communication would place a financial burden on a parent. These forms of communication are not to be considered a substitute for actual time spent with the child. They are merely used as a supplement to help ensure your child is able to have access to and enhanced relationships with both of you. The courts use several factors to determine child custody in Florida. Parents who wish to file for child custody in Florida should first become familiar with this state’s custody statutes.
While it is true that all orders regarding the children are modifiable in the future, we would strongly suggest that you not enter into any agreement based on the fact that it can always be changed later. As is the case in most states, Florida has a provision for taking child support directly from the wages of the parent who has been ordered to provide support, and it will be withheld much like income tax is from earnings. This method of paying and receiving child support is typically easier for both parties and is deemed to be a pretty dependable solution in the long run.