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How Does Domestic Violence Affect Young Children?
An incident of domestic violence affects not only the people involved, but everyone else in the home and affected by the relationship as well. Young children are among those who experience the most upheaval and trauma, and Florida courts are vested in always trying to act in the best interests of the child. If you are in a situation where your young children are being exposed to domestic violence, it is crucial that you understand the potential consequences.
Profound Negative Effects
Statistics have shown that children who are victims of domestic abuse (whether emotional, physical, or otherwise) are significantly more likely to have long-term physical and mental health problems than children who grow up in stable homes. There is also some evidence that children who witness or experience abuse may be more likely to commit it in the future, though this has not been definitively established. Nonetheless, the outlook for children who experience abuse is bleak.
These facts are some of the reasons why the Florida legislature has made it a public policy issue to act in the best interests of children in these types of cases – even if that means acting against their parents’ interest. This is most often seen in divorce cases, where the issue of domestic violence can play a significant role in determining how much parenting time – if any – both parents should retain.
A “Rebuttable Presumption” Of Unfitness
If you are in the middle of a Florida divorce, and you and your spouse have minor children, it is generally your job to formulate a parenting plan that works for everyone involved, but if this is not possible, the court will do so. One of the major factors that a court will consider in terms of custody is whether or not any evidence of domestic violence exists in the marriage. If either parent has been convicted of domestic violence, or certain other offenses, a rebuttable presumption will be created that parental responsibility should not be shared.
In other words, if a parent fits any of the criteria listed in the statute, the court will determine that it is not in their children’s best interests to have a relationship with that parent. That determination can be refuted with appropriate evidence – but the burden of proof is high, given how high the stakes are in terms of what contact with a violent parent might do to a child’s future.
Call A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney
Because crimes of domestic violence have such a high likelihood to cause particular harm to young children, Florida law takes a hard line in protecting them from exposure. If you have questions or concerns about a domestic violence-related situation, it is important to call a West Palm Beach criminal attorney to get them addressed. The firm of Perlet & Shiner, P.A. has experience with these matters, and is ready and willing to try and assist you with yours. Call our office today to speak to an attorney.