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Parenting Time-Sharing After Domestic Violence
Florida law is designed to always tilt in the best interests of the child or children involved in any situation. Sometimes this can be difficult to determine, however; one must balance the fact that children generally have better outcomes when both parents are in their lives with the fact that an abusive parent should not have the right to share in parenting. If your family has experienced domestic violence, parenting time may be a hot-button issue in later proceedings.
Must Act In The “Best Interests Of The Child”
Domestic violence is defined in Florida as any criminal offense resulting in “physical injury or death” to any of the perpetrator’s “family or household member[s].” A “family or household member” may be a spouse, former spouse, unmarried co-parent, anyone related to the perpetrator by blood or marriage, or people who are (or have been) residing together as a family. Children are not specifically named in the statute, but they can be victims along with their parents and caregivers – and even if not physically attacked, the harm of witnessing such violence can be irreparable.
Because of how potentially damaging domestic violence can be to children, it is absolutely a possibility that you could lose visitation or custody rights if charged, and a likelihood that you will lose them if convicted. The Florida Department of Children & Families (DCFS) is duty bound to investigate in cases involving violence in the home, and can access information gathered in the course of a criminal investigation to be used in a civil proceeding about fitness or parenting time.
Overcome The “Rebuttable Presumption”
If you have been charged with a crime of domestic violence, it is absolutely crucial that you try to avoid having a conviction on your record if you want to remain able to enjoy unsupervised visitation with your children. Florida law specifically states that parental responsibility (what used to be called “custody”) for a minor child or children will be shared between the parents unless it can be shown that shared responsibility would harm the child.
A conviction for a crime of domestic violence that is more serious than a second-degree misdemeanor creates a “rebuttable presumption” that parenting time with that parent would be harmful to the child. The presumption can be overcome by the appropriate evidence, as one might think – but it is important to keep in mind that even if you are denied parenting time or unsupervised visitation, any financial obligation does not end. Support obligations persist as long as a parent has an obligation to their children – it has nothing to do with their co-parent whatsoever.
Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney
Most parents want a relationship with their children – but a conviction for domestic violence can make that impossible in some situations. A West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney from the firm of Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help to protect your rights and give you the best chance at preserving your relationship with your children – if not with your co-parent. Contact our office today at 561-721-0552 to speak to an attorney.