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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Criminal Defense / Florida Domestic Violence Charges & Child Custody

Florida Domestic Violence Charges & Child Custody


If you have been charged with domestic violence in Florida, you are likely aware of the serious consequences that can result if you are convicted. However, if you have a family, one very serious outgrowth of a domestic violence conviction can be divorce and loss of child custody. While many simply do not believe that it can happen to them, Florida courts can and will remove a child from your care, or deny you a relationship with them, if they believe that it would not be in the child’s best interests to continue to see you. An experienced attorney can help answer any questions you have about the process.

The Best Interests Of The Child Above All Else

In child custody cases, Florida family courts are required to put the best interests of the child in question above any other factor. This means that the court will consider several different factors and evidence in order to figure out the best possible living environment for the child or children, even if other factors might make a situation difficult for the parents or anyone else involved in the children’s lives. Joint physical and legal custody are the norm in Nevada, but this is not an appropriate status when one parent has been arrested or charged with domestic violence.

Being a witness to domestic violence can cause serious damage to the psyche of a child. Statistics cited by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) estimate that children who witness intimate partner violence are three times more likely than their peers to engage in ‘violent behavior,’ and are at greater risk of contracting conditions like cancer, heart disease, and depression, as well as becoming addicted to substances like alcohol or drugs. These risks are decidedly not in the best interests of the child, and very often, the court will have to make a choice.

Overcoming Presumption Of Unfitness

Florida child custody cases almost always start with the presumption that joint physical and legal custody is best – that is, that both parents should have an equal voice in making decisions for their children. However, state jurisprudence has built up a body of factors that a court must consider in making the determination as to what arrangement would actually be best for the children of that specific marriage. Among them, state law explicitly says that if a parent has been convicted of a crime of domestic violence that is a first-degree misdemeanor or higher, it creates a “rebuttable presumption” that custody would not be in the children’s best interests.

It is important to know that any evidence of domestic violence, whether you have been convicted or not, will be counted as a factor against you having custody of your children. In addition, even if you are denied custody, the court can – and often does – require you to pay child support. Unless your parental rights are terminated by the court, which is extremely rare, the obligation of support will generally persist, even if you are denied time-sharing with your kids.

Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney

Most parents will do just about anything to preserve their relationship with their children. However, a domestic violence conviction will place your having custody squarely in the realm of things detrimental to your child. If you have concerns about your domestic violence case, contacting a West Palm Beach criminal attorney from the firm of Perlet & Shiner, P.A. may help to get them managed. Call our offices today at (561) 721-0552 to speak to an attorney.

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