Like other states, Florida’s laws offer special protections to victims of domestic violence and their children.
These protections include certain rules designed to prevent an abusive parent from using custody and parenting time as way of continuing a cycle of violence and abuse against either the other parent or the child.
It is important that both victims of abuse and parents who may be accused of domestic violence understand the consequences of these laws.
A domestic violence conviction could mean restricted custody
For one, a person convicted of most crimes related to domestic violence, including first-time misdemeanors, will by default not receive decision-making authority over their children in a custody case.
A parent who is subject to this rule is allowed to try to convince the court that he is fit to have what Florida law calls shared parental responsibility.
If he is unsuccessful in doing so, then he will likely not have input in major decisions involving the child, including decisions about health care, education and religion.
Furthermore, the court’s focus when ordering parenting time will be keeping the child and any other victim safe. In the worst case scenario, a parent may be deprived of the right to see his child altogether. In other cases, he may have to attend counseling, submit to supervised visits at his expense or some other consequence.
Other allegations of domestic violence can also affect custody rights
Even if a parent does not have a conviction related to domestic violence on her record, the other parent still has the right under Florida law to present evidence of domestic violence. A judge can use this evidence to deprive her of parental responsibility and parenting time.