How Does Domestic Violence Affect Child Custody in Florida?

The guiding principle in family law cases involving children is what will be “in the best interest of the child.” If there is evidence that a certain decision would be to the detriment of a child, it is most likely a judge will not do it unless sufficient evidence showing the contrary is presented. This holds true in cases such as child custody. Being convicted of domestic violence can have consequences that reach into different facets of your life. One such facet is child custody. Family judges are all too aware of the impact a violent home can have on children and they bear this in mind when determining child custody arrangement.

Domestic Violence and Child Custody

When deciding on child custody, Florida family law judges begin with the presumption that both parents should share custody. This is the presumption unless there is evidence that both parents sharing custody would be detrimental to the child. If a parent has been convicted of a domestic violence charge, whether it be a misdemeanor or worse, the presumption becomes that giving that parent custody would be detrimental to the child. The burden falls on the parent with the domestic violence conviction to prove to the court that he or she should share custody with the other parents. A hearing will be held to decide whether or not the parent with the domestic violence conviction should be allowed to have any contact with the child. The convicted parent must be prepared to show the judge that the child’s physical and mental well-being would not be in danger. The court may allow shared custody, order no contact, or allow the parent to only have supervised visitation rights. 

A discussion of domestic violence is even relevant in cases where there has not been any conviction. If there is any evidence of domestic violence, it can be presented to the court for consideration. Any evidence of domestic violence, child abuse, or child neglect will be weighed in the court’s decision. In deciding custody and visitation arrangements, the judge will consider evidence of many other factors as well. These include:

  • Parent relationships with the child
  • Current division of parenting responsibilities
  • Current living environment of the child
  • Mental and physical health of the parents
  • Child’s preference
  • Any drug and alcohol issues of the parents
  • The child’s home life
  • The child’s school and community
  • Parenting abilities and moral fitness of each parent

The court will consider all of these factors and any other factors that may affect the well-being of the child.

Child Custody Legal Counsel

Child custody cases are so deeply personal. They go to the heart of a family. We all want what is best for our children. The attorneys at the Orlando Family Team are dedicated to helping our clients show family law judges what is in fact best for their children. We are here to fight for you and your family. Contact us today.