Florida stopped using the term ‘child custody’ in 2008 and now uses the terms’ parental responsibility’ and ‘time-sharing.’ Many myths abound about parental responsibility and time-sharing in Florida. As a parent in Florida, you might find that what you believe to be the truth about parental responsibility and time-sharing is actually not. One of the main reasons for the prevalence of myths about parental responsibility and time-sharing is that some people believe that the rules that apply in another state also apply in Florida. Different states have different laws governing parental responsibility and time-sharing.
Below, we debunk five myths about parental responsibility and time-sharing in Florida.
Myth #1: Parents Always Share Parenting Time Equally
False: There used to be a law in Florida that required parenting time to be shared equally. However, since 2016, that law does not exist. As it is now, Florida courts can either order parenting time to be shared equally or unequally. One parent can be granted the right to spend more time with their child if that is what is in the child’s best interest. Florida courts determine how to award parenting based on what is in a child’s best interest.
Myth #2: Sole Parental Responsibility Is Common
False: Florida courts generally favor time-sharing arrangements that allow both parents to remain active in their child’s life. Sole parental responsibility is awarded in limited circumstances. For example, it can be awarded if one parent forfeits their parental rights or if the child’s safety is at risk. However, even in a case where one parent is granted sole parental responsibility, the other parent will likely be awarded parenting time, often with restrictions.
Myth #3: Courts Favor Mothers
False: Judges decide parental responsibility and time-sharing cases based on parents’ ability to care for the child. Judges also consider other factors, such as which parent can provide the child with a more stable home. Florida courts will never consider gender as one of the factors when making parental responsibility and time-sharing decisions.
Myth #4: An Unmarried Father Cannot Get Rights and Responsibilities if His Name Is Not on the Child’s Birth Certificate
Truth: An unmarried father can get rights and responsibilities even if his name is not on their child’s birth certificate. If an unmarried father establishes paternity, he can get parenting rights and responsibilities. In Florida, there are different ways of establishing paternity. For instance, paternity can be established by acknowledgment or with a legal order.
Myth #5: Children Can Choose Which Parent They Want To Live With
Truth: A Florida court can consider a child’s preference when making parental responsibility and time-sharing decisions. In deciding whether to consider a child’s preference, the court will generally look at whether the child is intelligent enough to make an informed choice. However, a child’s preference cannot be the deciding factor. A child can’t choose which parent to live with. After a child shares their preference, the court will consider the child’s opinion and many other factors before making the final decision.
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