What is shared parental responsibility (joint custody)?
Shared parental responsibility is when both parents have full parental rights and responsibilities with respect to their child. The parents must talk to each other and jointly make decisions about the child’s welfare (including primary residence, education, religion, medical and dental care).1 Therefore, in cases where there is domestic violence – and the abuser has the power and control– this type of shared parental responsibility likely will not be a good option.
The judge will order shared parental responsibility unless s/he finds that shared parental responsibility would be harmful to the child. Any evidence of domestic violence or child abuse (even if there is no criminal conviction and/or no injunction for protection against domestic violence) will be considered by the judge to be evidence of harm to the child. The court may consider the desires of the parents and may give one parent the ultimate responsibility for particular aspects of the child’s welfare or may divide the responsibilities between the parents.2
1 F.S.A. § 61.046(16)
2 F.S.A. § 61.13(2)(c)(2)