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My ex-wife has petitioned the court for Sole Parental Responsibility of our child. What does she need to prove to get this?

Gainesville, FL |

My ex-wife and I have a 10 year old child. We have had shared parental responsibility since our divorce in 2002. Over the years she has falsely accused me of sexual abuse of our child, has withheld visitation for an 8 month stretch, and frustrates visitation on a regular basis. She's now petitioning for sole custody based on the following: I will not take child to extracurricular activites the mother has arranged on my weekends because I have already made other arrangements for the child and the child of my current marriage during those times, I disciplined the child ONE time using hot sauce for lying (retrospect - bad idea), I don't celebrate the holidays based on religion, so she wants to have custody of the child during ALL holidays. She is bi-polar and refuses to communicate rationally

Attorney Answers 1


Shared parental responsibility is statutorily required unless the court specifically finds that it would be detrimental to the child. So, she must prove, and the court must find, that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child. The courts have consistently held that without such a finding, an award of sole parental responsibility is inappropriate.

If the hot sauce incident resulted in a criminal conviction, the court will consider evidence that a parent has been convicted of a misdemeanor of the first degree or higher involving domestic violence, as defined in s. 741.28 and chapter 775, or meets the criteria of s. 39.806(1)(d), (Fla. Stat.) creates a rebuttable presumption of detriment to the child.

If the presumption is not rebutted after the convicted parent is advised by the court that the presumption exists, shared parental responsibility, including time-sharing with the child, and decisions made regarding the child, may not be granted to the convicted parent.

The other factors mentioned would not be a valid basis for a finding of detriment to the child.

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