Grey’s Anatomy star, Jesse Williams’ estranged wife, Aryn Drake-Lee, is requesting sole custody of the couple’s two children, citing the actor’s unpredictable work schedule, a dangerous driving incident and his alleged “revolving door” of women. When is sole custody awarded in court?
According to news reports, in court documents filed on August 11, the real estate broker claims that she is responsible for the day-to-day care of the kids because of the Grey’s Anatomy star’s busy schedule.
“Jesse would ‘join in’ when he was available and home, but he rarely took care of the children without my or the nanny’s help and presence,” the documents say.
“Jesse became distant, secretive and was home less and less, traveling for unexplained reasons while telling the kids, ‘Daddy is at work.’ We tried marriage counseling in the fall of 2016, but were unsuccessful. Jesse eventually moved out at the end of March 2017.”
Florida Sole Custody
The question about an award of sole custody of children frequently comes up in consultations, and is a matter I’ve written about before. Many people are surprised to learn that the term “custody” is no longer recognized in Florida.
Florida replaced the “custody” term for the “parenting plan” concept in order to avoid labeling parents as “visiting parent” or “primary parent” in the hopes of making child custody issues less controversial.
Under Florida’s parenting plan concept, both parents enjoy shared parental responsibility and a time-sharing schedule. “Shared parental responsibility” means both parents retain full parental rights and responsibilities, and have to confer with each other so that major decisions affecting their child are made jointly.
A time-sharing schedule, as the name suggests, is simply a timetable that is included in the parenting plan that specifies the times, including overnights and holidays, that your child spends with each parent.
Florida’s parenting plan concept has changed sole custody into “sole parental responsibility.” The term means that only one parent makes decisions regarding the minor child, as opposed to the shared parental responsibility terms, where both parents make decisions jointly.
How do you get sole custody in Florida?
Sole parental responsibility, or sole custody as people generally call it, has been made more difficult to obtain. Florida’s public policy is for each child to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after a divorce.
Because of Florida’s public policy, courts order shared parental responsibility unless the court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child.
In those cases where detriment is proved, the court orders sole parental responsibility to one parent, with or without time-sharing with the other parent, if it is in the best interests of the minor child.
The Anatomy of Sole Custody
Drake-Lee allegedly claims in court documents that her husband has “not recognized and prioritized the children’s schedule over his own and their need to maintain it daily, even on weekends, whether or not a parent is working.”
She also claims that her ex does not make the children’s school pick-up and drop-off a priority, and tries to make the nanny drive the kids, although that’s not what she was hired to do.
However, in previous court documents Williams has claimed that Drake-Lee has declined his requests to spend more time with the children. “Aryn restricts my time with the children and decides when, and for how long I may have them,”
The US Weekly article is here.