How Does Domestic Violence Impact Child Custody?
Going through a divorce is an overwhelming and emotional situation to be in, which can be made even more painful if there is domestic violence involved. Domestic violence is a serious offense in Florida and there are options to protect yourself and your family from the abuser having parental rights. At The Law Office of Laura A. Olson, you can create a child custody arrangement that keeps you and your family safe.
How is Child Custody Determined in Florida?
The basic assumption in a divorce case where children are involved is that it is in the child’s best interest to have contact with both parents. The difficulty in determining a child custody agreement between parties where domestic violence has occurred is that it can be dangerous to create a parenting plan and time-sharing schedule. Many survivors of domestic violence do not want to be physically near their abuser, and potentially do not want their children near this person either. The law provides for this exact circumstance, if it is shown that shared custody would be detrimental to the child.
A court can consider domestic violence and the parents’ historic relationship when creating a child custody arrangement and decide to limit or restrict parenting time, depending on the severity of the case. In determining whether domestic violence has occurred, the court will consider whether a party has committed an act of violence or child abuse against any other family member. There does not need to be a domestic violence conviction in the abuser’s past for the court to consider evidence of any kind of abuse. Further, the court will look at whether there is a pattern of behavior to exert control and power over other family members. Finally, the court can consider whether the abusing party engaged in behavior that would put family members in a position where they believed they were in imminent danger. A finding of domestic violence from the court can lead to consequences outside of the child custody arrangement such as an order for protection or even criminal charges.
A domestic violence conviction against a parent will result in an automatic legal presumption that it is not in the child’s best interests for custody to be granted to that parent. The convicted parent then bears the burden of rebutting that presumption by proving to the Court why he/she should be allowed any form of custody or visitation with the child.
What is a Petition for Injunction Against Domestic Violence?
An injunction is a court order sometimes called a “Restraining Order” that directs a person not to have any contact with you. It is one legal means of helping to protect a person from threats or acts of violence by another person. A Petition for an Injunction against Domestic Violence may be filed against a person who either now or in the past has lived with you as a “family.” “Family” includes people who you are related to you by blood or marriage; spouses, ex-spouses, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles; parties intimately involved and living together but never married; adopted children; step-parents and step-children, and others OR a person who is the parent of your child(ren), regardless of whether or not you have ever been married or lived together.
Domestic violence includes: assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any other criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death to petitioner or petitioner’s family or household members who are residing in the same single dwelling unit with the petitioner.
What can a Domestic Violence Injunction do for you?
The injunction can provide such relief as the court deems necessary, such as:
- Restrain the respondent from committing any acts of domestic violence;
- Award you temporary exclusive use of the home;
- Address issues related to support and timesharing with children;
- Order the respondent to participate in a batterer’s intervention course;
- Require the respondent to surrender weapons to law enforcement.
If the Court determines that you are entitled to a domestic violence injunction, and your children also are in danger as a result of the domestic violence, the injunction may restrict or completely preclude the abuser parent from having parenting time and contact with the children.
Let Us Help
Tampa child custody lawyer Laura A. Olson works to prepare evidence, present a strong case, and support you and your family during this difficult time. If you are going through a divorce or find yourself in a child custody dispute, call the Office of Laura A. Olson at 813-222-0888 for a free, initial consultation on your Tampa child custody legal needs.