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In Florida, family law judges base decisions concerning child custody on the "best interest of the child:. They also must take into consideration the generational impacts of domestic violence on children. Domestic violence has far reaching and long-term effects on the abused and abuse witnesses, especially children. Knowing this, no judge would readily place a child under the custody of an abusive and violent parent.

In the event of divorce or separation, the Florida state, as with other states, have laws that determine how domestic violence affects child custody. Florida law defines domestic violence as any assault, battery, sexual abuse, stalking, kidnapping or any other criminal offense by one household or family member to another member that causes injury or death.

Florida child custody laws

There are many factors that must be considered with child custody rights rulings. Some of them include:

  • Each parent's relationship with the child
  • The parent's parenting abilities
  • The parent's character
  • Parent's issues with drugs and alcohol
  • Any evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect
  • False information given by either parent about domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect
  • Any other factors that affect the child's wellbeing.

How domestic violence affects custody rulings

It is presumed by the judges that the child's custody is the responsibility of both parents. There is an exception when it is evident that the arrangement will not be in the child's best interest.

Any parent found to have been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or more serious crime, is automatically ineligible to be granted child custody since this would be detrimental to the child's welfare. Any allegations or convictions of domestic violence can cause a parent to lose custody of the child. It is the responsibility of the convicted parent to prove to the court that he or she should have custody or visitation of the child along with the other parent.

In the event that there is no previous conviction but there is evidence of domestic violence or child abuse, the judge can still deny the guilty parent custody. Additionally, a parent may lose custodial rights if the judge discovers that there have been previous convictions of sexual abuse or battery, incest, kidnapping, indecent exposure, lewd behavior or physical abuse of children.

The judge must be convinced that the convicted parent is no threat to the child mentally, physically or otherwise before that parent can be allowed any contact with the child. The judge can make arrangements for the child's protection during the visits if he/she decides it is not in the best interest of the child to have contact with the convicted parent. Also, in some extreme cases, the judge may decide to terminate the parental rights of the parent in the best interest of the child.

If you have any questions, challenges or concern about domestic violence and how it will affect your child custody, speak to an experienced family lawyer. If you think that you are being wrongly accused, you do have the right to challenge it.

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