As is the case in other states, Florida legislators and judges take domestic violence seriously.
Under Florida law, judges are supposed to consider all evidence of domestic violence when making a decision about parental responsibilities and time-sharing, which are Florida’s terms for custody and parenting time. Evidence of domestic violence is considered as evidence that a parent might hurt the child.
It is important to remember that the definition of domestic violence is pretty broad. The violence does not have to be against the child or even witnessed by the child for the judge to take it in consideration.
Criminal convictions for domestic violence can impact parenting time
Another provision of Florida law states that if a parent has been convicted of any crime related to domestic violence, so long as the offense is at least a first degree misdemeanor, then a court must presume that the parent should not have any parental responsibilities and should not have time-sharing with the child.
It is up to the convicted parent to show the court that his or her involvement will not harm the children. Otherwise, the judge may award the other parent all parental responsibility for making decisions and may also order restricted or supervised parenting time.
Parents who are accused of domestic violence may need legal assistance
In theory, Florida’s strict approach to domestic violence is a good thing. Victims and their children need protection, and divorce should not be a means for an abuser to continue to exercise control over his or her victims.
There are times in which a Pensacola parent will have to admit his or her mistakes and work with the court, and the other parent, to prove that he or she is capable of safely being involved in his or her children’s lives. These parents may need assistance in advocating their cases, as some courts may be overly reluctant to give a parent a second chance.
Unfortunately, it also happens that a parent may fabricate an allegation of abuse to get an edge in a family law case. Some people may lie outright. In other cases, people may exaggerate or twist events that really were mistakes, but certainly not examples of abuse.
A parent on the receiving end of these types of allegations should be prepared to defend his custodial rights vigorously.