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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Criminal Defense / Will Domestic Violence Charges Affect Child Custody?

Will Domestic Violence Charges Affect Child Custody?


If a person is convicted of domestic violence under Florida law, any prison term or assessed fines will only be part of the consequences – those who have these types of convictions on their criminal record will also face social issues going forward. One of the most potentially devastating is the harm it will cause to your relationship with your children, as Florida state law does take domestic violence convictions into account when dealing with issues of parental responsibility.

Potential Social Consequences For Conviction

Unlike in several other jurisdictions, Florida’s law surrounding domestic violence does not actually recognize it as one specific crime. Rather, it is used as a sentencing enhancement of sorts, while the underlying crime is tried – for example, if you allegedly committed felony battery, you will be tried for that crime, and if convicted, the fact of it being a crime of domestic violence would be factored into sentencing calculations. The jail sentence for such a crime is up to five years, plus another five years’ probation.

That said, domestic violence convictions lead to social consequences, given that they cannot be expunged from one’s criminal record. A conviction for domestic violence will be seen as a mark of poor moral character, and people like potential landlords and employers may act accordingly (given that they can view a person’s criminal record). That alleged “poor moral character” can also be used against you during a divorce, when issues of parental responsibility are being debated.

“Poor Moral Character”

In general, Florida law takes the best interests of children extremely seriously, citing it as the prime impetus behind many of its family-related laws. When couples divorce, parental responsibility is often the most hotly disputed issue, most often because both parents believe they can provide the best long-term arrangement for their children to thrive. However, the court has the final say in most situations as to what plan will be best for the children involved. In general, parental responsibility for minor children is often shared, unless it is determined that shared custody would not be in the child’s best interests.

If a parent has been convicted of a domestic violence crime which is a felony of the third degree or higher, a rebuttable presumption will be created that parenting time with them will not be in a child’s best interests. The key word is “rebuttable,” meaning that the presumption can be refuted with the appropriate evidence – but if it is not, you may be denied parenting time and still wind up on the proverbial hook for child support.

Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney

If you have been charged with a domestic violence crime that is a third-degree felony or higher, you may stand a real chance of being denied parenting time or indeed, any access to your children, without the right help. The West Palm Beach criminal attorneys from the firm of Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. can help you navigate these charges and answer any questions you may have. Call our offices today to speak to an attorney.



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