Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Child Custody

Part of a parenting plan in a Florida child custody case concerns parental responsibility - that is the right of each parent to make major decisions regarding their children such as choice of doctor, school, etc. A Florida family court can award shared or sole parental responsibility or a hybrid of the two known as shared parental responsibility with ultimate decision-making authority. As one appellate case shows, ultimate decision-making must be awarded with careful parameters. 

In the case McClure v. Beck, 212 So.3d 396 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017), the trial court granted the former husband ultimate decision-making authority over all aspects of the children's lives. Specifically, the court mandated in its order: "Major decisions include, but are not limited to, decisions about the children's education, healthcare, and other responsibilities unique to this family. If the parties are unable to agree, the Father shall have ultimate decision-making authority." 

In reversing the trial court's order, the appellate court held the order erroneously failed to "specify concrete aspects of the children's lives" over which the former husband would have ultimate-decision making authority. Further, the language used in the order gave the former husband unlimited discretion to make all decisions regarding the children if the parties were unable to agree. The appellate court found this to be in error, and the trial court was instructed to identify specific aspects of the children's lives over which the former husband would have ultimate decision-making authority rather than granting him unfettered power. 

A parent's right to make decisions regarding the welfare of his or her children is not taken away easily by a court. To protect your parental rights it is important that you consult with a Miami child custody lawyer. A consultation can help you form a road map in moving forward with your Florida family law case.