When it comes to separation or divorce, the challenge is often greater when children are involved. As part of that process, the Florida Supreme Court addresses parental responsibility in a mandated Parenting Plan. The Plan considers three categories of parenting:
- SHARED PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY
- SHARED PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY WITH DECISION MAKING AUTHORITY and
- SOLE PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY
The following explanations provide clarification of the differing parental responsibilities found in a Court mandated Parenting Plan:
SHARED PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY: Shared parental responsibility is about putting children first. It is, by far, what the experts believe to be in the best interest of children, if at all possible. The parents consult with one another and decide together what decisions are best for the children as opposed to what is most convenient for the parents. These responsibilities could be just about anything, for example; decisions about where their children will be educated, which medical providers are most appropriate for the children, in what, if any, religion children will be raised and educated, what after school activity(ies) the children will be involved in and more.
SHARED PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY WITH DECISION MAKING AUTHORITY: While similar to shared parental responsibility, this option is for the parents who simply cannot resolve an issue(s) involving their children. In this case, it is advised that the parents make a list of those parental responsibilities they cannot agree on and then divide them up so that each parent decides on a listed responsibility keeping in the forefront the children’s best interest. In a case where even this attempt fails, the parents are advised to meet with a Family Mediator or Parenting Coordinator, each of whom is a neutral facilitator to help the couple find resolution.
SOLE PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY: Sole parental responsibility occurs when one parent is entitled to make all decisions without regard to the other parent’s opinions. It is an uncommon arrangement that occurs only when necessary and for the safety and well-being of the children.