Domestic Violence: How It Can Affect Child Custody in Florida

When it comes to determining child custody matters in Florida, emotions often run hot. It’s fairly common to see custody battles in court stretch on for long periods of time — even months or years. This can be nerve-wracking for parents who may fear that any mistakes might jeopardize their right to custody.

Although judges look closely into the fitness of both parents, they generally recognize that people have different parenting styles. Additionally, even the best parents might have made mistakes in the past, and judges can be forgiving of youthful indiscretions. Custody hearings are an opportunity to decide what is in the best interests of the children in question.

However, when it comes to domestic violence, judges tend to take a hard stand. The physical and emotional wellbeing of a child is the most important matter in a custody hearing, and evidence of abuse by a parent can have a huge bearing on that parent’s right to custody. If a judge finds that a child may not be safe in the custody of one parent who has a history of domestic abuse, that judge may grant full custody to the other parent.

When a parent has a history of domestic abuse, that individual must prove to the court that he or she has a right to custody. In those situations, the parent has lost the presumption of equal custody. Even without a conviction on one’s criminal record, Florida judges may still take into consideration evidence of domestic abuse.

Custody battles are very difficult on families. When possible, it’s best to try to settle the matter out of court through a negotiated custody agreement. If you are facing a custody hearing and would like sound legal assistance, consult the knowledgeable Florida divorce attorneys at the Law Office of K. Dean Kantaras.

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