It is not uncommon for minor children to be living with only one of their parents or neither. Since minors do not have the capacity to make various legal decisions, the question often arises as to who, in the above scenarios, does have that authority.
Custody law can be contentious and complicated. While it is beyond the scope of this blog to address the entire subject, the natural starting point is section 744.301, Florida Statutes.
Section 744.301(2) provides that parents, as the natural guardians of their children, have the authority to make legally binding decisions on behalf of their minor children in personal injury cases. However, the authority is not absolute.
When the parents are living together with the children, the decision making is shared jointly. It is a different story when the parents are divorced and living apart. Section 744.301(1) provides that “the natural guardianship belongs to the parent to whom sole parental responsibility has been granted, or if the parents have been granted shared parental responsibility, both continue as natural guardians.” 744.301(1). This makes it sound like the right to make binding decisions is determined solely by the status of “parental responsibility.” Not necessarily.