What Does Shared Parental Responsibility Really Mean?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

For divorcing parents, whether the divorce is done by trial in front of the judge, or in mediation and by agreement of the parties, children’s provisions take up a good part of the court order or marital settlement agreement.  In Palm Beach County, all the documents include language about shared parental responsibility per Florida Statutes.

What does that actually mean?  It means that both parents have equal parental rights and  a say in all major decisions regarding the upbringing of their children.   What are the subjects of these major decisions?  Things like whether or not the children should attend public or private school; whether or not the child will see a certain doctor or therapist; whether or not the child will receive religious training; whether the child will take piano lessons or ballet lessons;  whether to teach a child to swim;  whether the child will attend day camp or sleep away camp.  Things of that nature fall into major decisions regarding the upbringing of a child.

What if the parents cannot agree?  Then the courts will intervene in determining what is in the best interests of the child.  What if a parent is unfit?  The other parent needs to petition the court for sole decisionmaking.  Again, the court will determine what is in the best interests of the child.  For more information about this or other divorce topics, call one of the divorce lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561-835-9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at http://www.familylawwpb.com.

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2 thoughts on “What Does Shared Parental Responsibility Really Mean?

  1. My ex husband and I have shared parenting responsibility, where we split time with our 2 children (10 yr and 7 yr), alternating weeks. This plan has worked well for the past 2 1/2 years. He has an extensive travel schedule for work coming up in the next few months, and he wants to continue alternating weeks, even though he will not be here, where our kids stay with their step mother when it’s “his” week. I have no problems with their step mother, in fact we get along very well. Does he have any right to designate that his “time” should be spent with her? This is a temporary situation, for 8 weeks total. Any advise or guidance would be appreciated.

    • You and your ex can agree to give each other the right of first refusal. What that means is if you or he cannot exercise time sharing you each give the other parent the right first for time sharing with the children before making other arrangements such as step parents, babysitters and grandparents. Since this is only for 8 weeks, time will go by quickly. But on a more permanent basis, it is a good idea to have the right of first refusal if the spouses can agree to that.

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