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Impact of Domestic Violence on Child Custody

Family Law Attorneys

Domestic violence has an impact on children whether they are the victims or whether they witness the victimization of another household member. Family law judges understand this and, when one parent has proven to be prone to abusive behavior, it can have significant consequences in child custody determinations. Let’s take a look at the impact domestic violence can have on child custody.

Impact of Domestic Violence on Child Custody

In deciding what kind of custody arrangement would be in the best interest of the child, family law judges will look at a number of factors. These factors include:

  • The relationship of each parent with the child
  • How responsibilities for the child are currently divided between the parents
  • The parenting abilities of the parents
  • The current living situation of the child
  • The home, school, and community of the child
  • Each parent’s character and moral fitness
  • Each parent’s mental and physical health
  • Each parent’s knowledge about the child, including friends, school information, activities, etc.
  • Each parent’s ability to maintain a structured daily schedule for the child
  • Each parent’s ability and willingness to communicate with the other parent about child issues
  • Any struggles either parent may have with alcohol or drugs
  • Any other factors that impact the best interests of the child

Domestic violence is, of course, a factor that could have serious impacts on the best interests of the child. While Florida family law judges start custody determinations under the presumption that both parents should share custody of the child, if a parent has been convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, or something more severe, the court changes its presumption to it being detrimental to the child for that parent to have custody rights. The parent with the criminal conviction then has the burden of showing that they should be able to share custody with the other parent.

A hearing on the matter will be decided. The court will not allow any visitation between the child and the convicted parent until the judge is convinced that the child’s well-being would not be in danger. The child’s well-being includes the child’s safety as well as the child’s physical, mental, and emotional health. Even if there has been no domestic violence conviction, the judge will still look at any evidence of domestic violence that is presented to the court. Either parent may disclose to the judge at the beginning of the custody case any incidences related to domestic violence.

In certain extreme and rarer, cases, the judge may order that the abusive parent’s parental rights be terminated. Alternatively, the judge may order that the parent have no contact with the child. In other cases, the court may find that the parent may still have visitation rights, but will only be permitted supervised visitation. This means that a trained supervisor would be required to oversee all visits between the child and that parent. The court can also order that the parent with a history of abuse carry the burden of paying for all costs associated with having supervised visitation.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

Need assistance with child custody issues? At Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, we’re here to help. Contact us today.

About the Author
Andrew Nickolaou, Esq., B.C.S., is a founding partner at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. He practices almost exclusively in divorce, marital and family law. Andrew and his partner, Ophelia Bernal-Mora, Esq., B.C.S., joined forces in March 2016 to form the unique and boutique husband and wife family law team at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. Together, Andrew and Ophelia take a practical and team-based approach to all of their cases and clients to deliver the highest quality experience and representation.
Andrew Nickolaou

Andrew Nickolaou, Esq., B.C.S., is a founding partner at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. He practices almost exclusively in divorce, marital and family law. Andrew also handles record expungements and sealings. If you have questions about this article, contact Andrew today by clicking here.