Who is a Custodial Parent? Can Both Parents be Custodial Parents?

Saturday, April 28, 2018

 Who is a Custodial Parent? Can Both Parents be Custodial Parents?

Before getting into a discussion about designating a custodial parent in Florida, it is important to note a few points:
  • In Florida, the word “custody” is no longer in use. Rather, the time a child spends with each parent is known as parenting time, and the schedule according to which he or she spends this time is known as a timesharing arrangement; and

  • Alongside timesharing, a parenting plan involves parental responsibilities. These components replaced the concepts of physical and legal custody, respectively. Parents can share parental responsibilities or one parent may have most or all of them.

When the term “custodial parent” is used, it typically refers to the parent in whose home the child spends the majority of his or her time. This is often the parent who receives child support payments to help cover the costs of providing for the child. It is also an important designation for tax purposes, because only one parent can claim the child as a dependent on his or her tax return. The parent with the majority of the child’s parenting time is usually the one who claims the child, but this parent can permit the other to claim the child through IRS Form 8332 or through the couple’s divorce settlement.

Shared Parenting Time is Not the Same as having Two Custodial Parents

In most cases, a child’s parents have shared parenting time. When the parents have an equal amount of parenting time, the arrangement is known as equal time-sharing. When one parent has more parenting time than the other, the arrangement is known as majority time-sharing. The court may even determine that it is in the child’s best interest for the child to live solely with one parent. With this type of arrangement, the court may create a visitation schedule for the other parent and with this schedule, it may impose specific restrictions.

Colloquially, the term “custodial parent” may be used to refer to the parent with the majority of the child’s parenting time. When the child lives solely with one parent, that parent can accurately be called the child’s custodial parent.

Work with Draper Law Office to Work Out your Parenting Plan

When you are developing a parenting plan for your children, it is important that every relevant factor is considered. Work with one of the experienced family lawyers at Draper Law Office to ensure that your rights are protected and your interests are promoted in every stage of your divorce. Contact us online or by calling (866) 767-4711 today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation in our office.


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