When you are in the middle of a divorce or custody dispute, a charge of domestic violence can ruin the relationship you have with your children. The legal process can take years, which means the possibility of less time with your children.

Domestic violence is a crime committed against a member of the family or household. In Florida, it includes crimes such as assault, battery, stalking, kidnapping and others. Family or household member means spouses, ex-spouses or people residing in the home.

What is the best interest of the child?

Florida always considers the best interest of the child. The judge places the child into the physical custody of a parent based on several factors:

  • Parent-child relationship
  • Living environment
  • Child’s preference
  • Physical and mental health of the parents
  • Parent’s ability to care for the child

Physical, mental and emotional safety is foremost in the mind of the judge as he or she makes the decision of where to place the child. Nevertheless, the court wants both parents to share in the responsibility of raising their child.

Evidence of domestic violence

The court considers domestic violence detrimental to the child. Any evidence cannot only cost a parent his or her possession of the child but might also jeopardize visitation rights.

Florida Statute 61.13 outlines child custody and support. It states that although there may not be a conviction of domestic violence, any evidence of domestic violence is an indication of detriment to the child.

However, when there is a conviction of domestic violence, it creates a “rebuttable presumption” of detriment to the child. This means the person convicted can deny this. If he or she does not, the court may not grant shared responsibility of the child.

The parent accused of domestic violence continues to have rights relating to child custody and support. He or she can access school, medical and dental records unless the judge denies access as part of a court order.

 

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