Domestic violence can have a tremendous impact on parties who are going through a Florida dissolution of marriage or a child custody case. When a marriage or relationship ends due to an act or acts of domestic violence, in addition to potentially being prosecuted criminally, there is a strong likelihood that a court will grant a petition for an injunction for protection against domestic violence. Regardless of how long a domestic violence injunction remains in effect, one spouse or parent is not allowed to have contact with the other and therefore is no longer in the former joint residence. In addition, the party who has been served with a domestic violence injunction will usually have some period of time where he or she is prohibited from having contact with the parties’ child(ren). This is because Florida law takes into consideration just how drastically domestic violence may impact children.
New Horizons Law, P.A., Michael J. Costantino, Esq. understands the dynamics of the interplay of both domestic relations and domestic violence laws in Florida. If you are contemplating a divorce in Florida where domestic violence is involved, it is extremely important to hire an attorney.
What exactly constitutes domestic violence? Florida Statute § 741.28 defines domestic violence as “any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.”
Florida Statute § 61.13 sets forth approximately twenty different factors which the court is required to consider in determining the best interest of the child; and this section also that the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration in creating the terms of a Parenting Plan. Evidence of domestic violence is one of the factors that the court must not only consider, but which the court must acknowledge in writing that it did consider in determining the best interests standard.
At New Horizons Law, P.A., Michael J. Costantino, Esq., recognizes that while there may be a presumption for shared parental responsibility this presumption does not exist if the court finds that shared custody would be “detrimental to the child”. It also depends on whether you as the client are the accused or the accuser. If you are the accused, then there are certain steps that can be taken such as completing an anger management course, a certified batter’s intervention course, or a drug and alcohol treatment program which may help you convince a judge that you and your behavior is not detrimental to the child(ren). On the other hand, if you are the accuser you may desire to have your former spouse to only have supervised visits in order to protect your child(ren) to the fullest extent possible.
Regardless of whether you are the accused or the accuser with respect to domestic violence, you should at a minimum consult with a Family Law Attorney to fully explore your rights. At New Horizons Law, P.A., Michael J. Costantino, Esq. provides free consultations with potential clients. Contact us to schedule your consultation.