RD- an actual child support client
"My case was handled quickly and with ease."
01/10/2014
RD- an actual child support client
"My case was handled quickly and with ease."
01/10/2014
“Prospective clients may not obtain the same or similar results.”
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Sole custody / Sole Parental Responsibility

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Family in need of attorney

The Gainesville Family Law Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A. represent parents seeking to attain sole custody / sole parental responsibility, as well as those defending requests for this type of child custody arrangement. Sole parental responsibility, formerly referred to in Florida as ‘sole custody,’ is when the court awards one parent the right to make decisions regarding a minor child.

Similar to other custody arrangements, it is important to differentiate between physical and legal custody. While being awarded sole parental responsibility grants legal custody of the children, this does not mean that the other parent rights to physical custody have been simultaneously eliminated. In order for the court to grant sole responsibility, there must be an existing issue or concern over future detriment to the child. Florida Statute §61.13(2)(c)(2), provides in part that:

“If the court determines that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child, it may order sole parental responsibility and make such arrangements for time-sharing as specified in the parenting plan as will best protect the child or abused spouse from further harm.”

Consequently, sole legal custody can be awarded to one parent, but the other parent can still retain their rights to physical custody, in the form of time-sharing or access to the child(ren), unless this too, would pose a risk of harm or detriment.

It is important to understand that establishing sole parental responsibility, generally requires far more than a simple statement from Parent A that the child was, is, or may be harmed. Assertions of detriment must be properly presented, supported by evidence, and successfully argued. In reverse scenarios, defending claims of detriment must also be responded to in a timely manner and in accordance with rules of procedure. Further, a defending party must be able to present evidence sufficient enough to overcome claims or allegations of detriment. As such, whether a parent is seeking sole parental responsibility, or is defending a request for this type of custody arrangement, having an attorney that can effectively advocate on your behalf can make all the difference.

Some examples of detriment include:

In understanding the manner in which the court will assess issues of detriment, it is helpful to know that effectively supporting or defending a claim of detriment to a child is often dependent on the specific type of detriment alleged. In some cases, evidence associated with existing or potential detriment to the child serves only as a means of supporting a claim, and therefore the burden of proof will remain on the party making such assertions. In other cases, such as when there is a history of domestic violence, or a parent is incarcerated, a rebuttable presumption of unfitness will arise, therefore shifting the burden of proof to the defending party.

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While the process of gaining sole parental responsibility is often far more complex in comparison to shared responsibility, parents should not be discouraged from seeking sole custody, if this arrangement would truly serve the best interests of the child(ren). Likewise, parents on the opposing side of custodial disputes should not be deterred from defending an allegation, claim, or presumption of detriment without fully understanding their parental rights.

In addition, parents should also not overestimate their abilities to meritoriously advocate on their own behalf. In other words, a parent may very well have a valid claim or valid defense, but without properly asserting sufficient supporting evidence, the likelihood of that parent obtaining a ruling in favor of their position can be greatly diminished. In these situations, hiring an experienced child custody attorney is critical.

Although, in some cases family law matters may be appealed and custody determinations modified, it is far better to take a proactive approach from the outset, by discussing your matter with an attorney who will ensure the protection of your parental rights. Whether you need help with an initial child custody determination, a modification, or family law appeal, the Gainesville attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A. have the experience and knowledge necessary to attain effective and efficient results.