If you are currently undergoing or even contemplating a Florida divorce and you have children, you may have found the terminology used to define Florida child custody law confusing. To clarify:
Florida courts prefer that both parents have as much input into the raising of their children as possible, which is why they typically require that parents have what is known as shared or joint parental responsibility. This is not the same as joint custody. Typically, Florida courts do not favor joint custody because of the disruption it brings to the lives of children – two different homes, perhaps different schools and different sets of friends.
Florida has found that the more workable arrangement is shared or joint parental responsibility, where both parents retain their full rights and responsibilities when it comes to parenting their children. This means that parents must communicate well with each other and share decision-making responsibilities when it comes to major decisions – medical, religious, education, etc. If the court finds that parents cannot work together on making those decisions, it may assign a specific responsibility to one parent.
One parent is usually granted primary residential care of the child, which means their home is the child’s primary residence and they are considered the custodial parent. The other parent is the noncustodial parent. However, this does not change the status of both parents as equals when it comes to parental rights and the responsibilities for the child.