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Child custody and the violent or abusive parent

Florida law protects children from abuse with a number of laws. It is possible for a parent or guardian to legally lose their custody and visitation rights because of violent or abusive behavior. However, the parental right to see and interact with their child is strongly respected by state and federal law. If it is possible for the parent to interact safely and appropriately with their offspring, then the court may choose to make provisions for custody, visitation or supervised visitation.

The best interests of the child are the primary concern for the court, and any parent who is convicted of first degree misdemeanor domestic violence, felony domestic violence or any other crime that carries with it a prison sentence and justifiable grounds for terminating parental rights might cause the court to assume that the best interests of the child do not lie with them. Although the parent may go to the judge and advocate for the restoration of some parental rights, they will have to prove that they are capable of safe and nurturing behavior around the child.

Evidence of abuse will also be considered by the court as they attempt to determine what the best interests of the child may be. A parent who has shown themselves to be unreliable or dangerous may require supervision during their visitation with the child.

Legal tasks such as establishing child custody or modifying a parenting plan may benefit from the assistance of a family law attorney. Such an attorney can provide guidance and advice as the client attempts to negotiate for their parental or custodial rights directly with the other parent or in court.

Source: Women's Law, "Can a parent who committed violence get custody (parental responsibility) or visitation (time-sharing)?", December 17, 2014

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