Allegations of domestic violence can have a profound effect on matters of family law like divorce and child custody. Working with an experienced attorney is crucial if you are involved in a court proceeding and domestic violence is a factor.
A West Miami domestic violence lawyer can advise you throughout the process. With their help, you could achieve the results you desire and maintain safety for everyone concerned.
How Domestic Violence Affects Child Custody
The courts order child custody arrangements when parents live apart. A history of domestic violence could substantially affect a Judge’s decision regarding where the children will live, how much time the non-residential parent spends with them, and which parent makes decisions regarding the children.
Florida Statutes § 61.13 describes factors a Judge must consider when determining custody. The law favors each parent retaining significant influence in the children’s lives and sharing time with them with the other parent. However, a domestic violence conviction changes the presumption that shared time and responsibility are beneficial.
The law presumes that it is not in a child’s best interests for a parent to have decision-making responsibility if they have a conviction for a misdemeanor or felony domestic violence charge. A parent with a conviction could try to overcome the presumption.
A Judge might consider allowing a parent with a domestic violence conviction to share parental responsibility if the conviction happened far back in time and there have been no recent reported incidents. If the conviction was more recent, a Judge might consider evidence the offender has:
- Completed batterer’s intervention;
- Undergone treatment for substance abuse if intoxication or drug use was an issue in the domestic violence incident;
- Sought help from a mental health professional.
A West Miami domestic violence attorney will advise whether evidence is sufficient to support a parent’s attempt to overcome the presumption against shared parental decision-making.
Judges usually divide time between parents as evenly as their individual circumstances allow. The law presumes that spending significant time with each parent benefits children. However, the children’s well-being and best interests are always the Judge’s primary concern.
A person with a child abuse conviction in any state, or who has ever lost their parental rights in any state, is unlikely to receive unsupervised time with a child. A history of domestic violence in a household, even if there has not been a conviction, might cause a court to hold a hearing to determine whether it is appropriate to have contact. Judges also consider whether one spouse made false allegations against the other to influence a custody determination.
The parent will have an opportunity to make their case for continuing contact with the child and the other parent could argue against it if they believe contact would be harmful. A domestic violence attorney in West Miami can collect and present evidence supporting the parent’s position. If the Judge believes the evidence does not support terminating contact, they could order supervised visitation to ensure everyone’s safety.
How Domestic Violence Could Affect Divorce
Florida is a no-fault divorce state, so courts do not consider a spouse’s reasons for seeking a divorce when deciding whether to grant it. However, domestic violence allegations affect child custody decisions, as explained above and they also could impact the financial settlement in a divorce.
For example, Judges divide marital property according to equitable distribution principles. An equitable distribution must be fair but not necessarily equal. If a spouse in West Miami alleges domestic violence had an impact on their mental or physical health or their ability to succeed at a job, a Judge might award them a larger share of the marital property.
Similarly, a spouse who has been the victim of domestic violence might have emotional scars that prevent them from working to their full potential. A Judge could consider the effects of domestic violence when determining an appropriate alimony arrangement.
Consult a West Miami Domestic Violence Attorney for Help Today
Domestic violence has a far-reaching impact on the abuser and the victim. If you are involved in a divorce or child custody case, even unproven allegations of domestic violence could affect the outcome.
A West Miami domestic violence lawyer has the knowledge and skill to manage family law cases where this history is an issue. Consult with The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm and schedule a free consultation of your case.