Custody issues in domestic violence cases

Like many other states, Florida courts will typically assume that a child whose parents live in separate homes will best benefit by having plenty of time and opportunity to develop a meaningful relationship with each parent.

While this does not always mean each parent will have the child a perfect 50 percent of the time, it does mean that a court will work hard to be sure that both parents are involved in their children's lives, at least under ordinary circumstances.

When there are allegations of domestic violence in play, however, the situation is different. If a parent has been convicted of most any crime of domestic violence, even if the violence did not involve the child in any respect, then that parent has an obligation to prove that his or her significant involvement in decision-making and other aspects of the child's life is not going to have a detriment on the child.

Otherwise, after a conviction for domestic violence, a court's approach toward a parenting plan and parental responsibilities shift somewhat. Instead of focusing on making sure each parent has a relationship with the child, a court's orders will instead first consider keeping both the victim of the domestic violence and the child safe. The end result could be a parent gets a very limited role in his or her child's life.

Even in the absence of a conviction, a Florida court can and should still consider any credible evidence of domestic violence in the home and make orders appropriately.

For these reasons, a custody and parenting time case in Lakeland that involves domestic violence requires special legal attention. Oftentimes, it is best to consult an experienced child custody attorney in these situations.

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