How Domestic Violence Impacts Child Custody
If you or your child’s other parent were ever convicted of domestic violence, your child custody case will be handled a bit differently than a typical child custody case. In accordance with Florida law, a judge will consider what situation would be in the best interests of your child. In normal cases, what would be in a child’s best interests would be for the child to see both parents equally; however, if one parent has demonstrated violent tendencies in the past—or, more specifically, in the recent past—the judge may see fit to make other arrangements.
At the office of Edward J. Jennings, P.A., our Fort Lauderdale child custody attorneys strive to negotiate child custody arrangements that are best for our clients and their children. Whether you were convicted of domestic violence years ago and want to make sure that your conviction does not hurt your case, or you want to make sure that your child’s other parent does not get unsupervised visitation, our team will use our skill and knowledge to obtain the best outcome possible.
What a Domestic Violence Conviction Means for Your Child Custody Case
According to Florida Statutes 61.13, it is state policy to ensure that children of separated families have “frequent and continuing contact with both parents…and to encourage parents to share rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing.” However, if the judge determines that shared parenting would be detrimental to the child, he or she would reconsider shared parenting and grant sole custody or the majority of custody to the non-criminal parent. “Evidence that a parent has been convicted of a misdemeanor of the first degree or higher involving domestic violence…creates a rebuttable presumption of detriment to the child.”
If a parent with a prior conviction wishes to rebut the presumption that a prior conviction means they are an unsuitable parent, they will be given the opportunity to do so. However, if they fail to argue their case, shared parental responsibilities—including those regarding decision making—will not be granted to the convicted parent. Depending on the nature of the conviction, the convicted parent will only be granted visitation rights.
If a parent has been convicted of any type of child abuse or kidnapping in any state, the judge will likely decide that the child is unsafe in his or her presence and that the parent does not get any parental rights at all. In extreme cases, the judge may decide that no contact with the convicted parent is best. If the judge does allow contact, they must be absolutely certain that the child is safe before allowing any kind of visitation to take place.
How a Domestic Violence Charge Affects the Outcome of a Child Custody Case
A parent does not have to be convicted of domestic violence in order for their child custody case to be impacted. A judge takes all accusations of domestic violence—especially child abuse—seriously, and will carefully consider all evidence even if there is no conviction. It is the judge’s job to make sure that the child is placed in the best possible situation, and failing to consider any serious threats to the child’s well-being would be a failure to do their job.
In some cases, a judge may order supervised visitation either indefinitely or until the convicted parent completes a number of requirements and can prove that he or she is a suitable parent. Often times, the convicted parent will be responsible for paying for all expenses related to supervised visitations, including the hourly fee for a trained supervisor, therapy, and anger-management course fees.
When a Domestic Violence Conviction Results in the Termination of Parental Rights
In a few rare instances, a family judge may decide to terminate a parent’s rights entirely. Some circumstances that may result in such a ruling include the following:
- The parent is a sexual predator;
- The parent is a violent career criminal;
- The parent has been convicted of first or second-degree murder;
- The parent has sexually abused the child or committed aggravated child abuse;
- The parent committed a sexual battery; or
- The parent conspired with another person to murder the other parent and/or child.
Consult a Fort Lauderdale Child Custody Attorney
At the office of Edward J. Jennings, P.A., our Fort Lauderdale child custody lawyers aim to negotiate child custody arrangements that are best for our clients and their children. If you are interested in learning more about how a domestic violence charge and/or conviction can impact a child custody case, schedule an appointment online or by calling our office today.