Judges are all too aware of the impact witnessing violence in the home can have on a child. Most family law courts, including those in Florida, follow the best interests of the child principle to make decisions on child custody, which we will explain in further detail. If you are currently involved in a child custody battle or anticipating a custody dispute in your divorce proceedings, discuss the details of your situation with an experienced family law attorney.
Overview of Florida Child Custody Laws
There are two aspects of child custody:
- Legal Custody: Refers to which parent will make medical, educational, religious, and other significant decisions for the child
- Physical Custody: Refers to the child's living and visitation arrangements
There are many factors judges consider when deciding child custody cases, including the following:
- Each parent's ability to facilitate and encourage an ongoing parent-child relationship
- Each parent's willingness to stick to the time-sharing schedule
- How parental responsibilities will be divided after the separation
- How long the child has lived in a given stable environment, and how important it is to maintain continuity in their living situation
- Where each parent lives or intends to live, and how close the child's school, extracurriculars, doctor, etc. are to each parent's home
- The moral fitness of each parent
- Each parent's mental and physical health
- The child's preferences, if they are mature enough to have a preference
- Each parent's ability to provide and maintain a consistent routine for the child
- Any history of domestic violence or child abuse
- Each parent's parenting skills
- The child's special needs, if any
Impact of Domestic Violence on Custody Decisions
Family law judges begin with the presumption that both parents should share custody unless there is evidence that this arrangement would detrimental to the child. An example is a domestic violence conviction. This would affect visitation and potentially parenting responsibilities altogether.
A judge may determine that it's in the child's best interest to have contact with a parent convicted of domestic violence, but order supervised visitation to ensure the child is protected. There are extreme cases where courts may decide it's in the best interest to end the parent-child relationship.
As a parent, your child's well-being and safety are paramount. Our team is committed to supporting you through this process while providing the relentless legal advocacy you and your child need.