With millions of children living in homes where domestic violence has occurred, a history of this abuse, whether in the past or continuing, will be a factor in custody and visitation decisions made by the court. Families in Florida who are in this type of situation should be prepared for the court to consider a range of issues and evidence all in search of a decision that is in the best interest of the child.
What courts look at when domestic violence is involved
When courts are making custody and visitation decisions in cases where there are allegations of domestic violence, they focus on both the present and the past and the impact on the children. To determine the potential for additional violence and decide in the best interest of the child, they look at issues such as:
- If the domestic violence case is still going on
- If the child was the victim of the violence
- If the child or the other parent continues to be at risk of being victim to the parent’s violence
- If the child was affected emotionally, even if they were not the victim
- How often and severe were the episodes of domestic violence
- All evidence of the abuse including photographs, medical reports and police incident reports
What a court can do when domestic violence is an issue
When domestic abuse is one of the factors in custody and visitation cases, courts can make decisions that will temporarily or permanently affect the custody arrangements. In certain cases, the court might issue an order of protection for the child to immediately attempt to protect the child’s safety.
During the process, the court can also order the abusive parent to take anger-management and parenting classes or to receive counseling for domestic violence. As well, the court can issue a supervised visitation order or even suspend a parent’s visitation rights.