When it comes to child custody cases, judges are supposed to focus on what is in the child’s best interest. Domestic violence accusations, even if they’re unproven, can adversely impact a parent’s child custody rights, though.
Florida family law judges view an accusation of domestic violence very seriously. They tend to err on the side of caution and not risk granting custody to a person that may potentially harm the child. Visitation may be limited. A judge may require that such sessions occur under the supervision of someone else as well.
Domestic violence is an epidemic in the United States. A study in the Journal of Family Violence (J Fam Violence) in 2016 shows that more than 15 million children witness domestic violence on an annual basis. Many times domestic violence is one of the primary reasons why a spouse may file for divorce. When there are children involved, joint custody or liberal visitation is unlikely.
Being accused of domestic violence, especially if there’s recent documentable evidence, can adversely impact a parent’s ability to request custody of their child.
Judges consider many factors when it comes to determining the veracity of domestic violence allegations. They cannot just take a parent’s word for it, because that may be a tactic to gain the upper hand in both a divorce proceeding as well as a child custody case.
Courts look at whether the alleged domestic violence harmed the child and whether a parent specifically directed their aggression at them. They also seek to determine whether the accused continues to pose a potential danger. Courts often look at the frequency and severity of any incidents. They may also take into account whether there are pending criminal charges related to the domestic violence or physical evidence such as photographs and hospital records and police reports regarding the same.
If you have been accused of domestic violence and are attempting to gain custody or visitation rights of your child here in Fort Myers, you should be prepared to face an uphill battle. An experienced child custody attorney can help you sort through the facts versus allegations with the end goal of helping you get a fair result in your Florida case.