Legal Information: Florida


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June 18, 2021

Can a parent who committed violence get custody (parental responsibility) or visitation (time-sharing)?

Sometimes. It depends on the circumstances of the case. If the parent has been convicted (found guilty in criminal court) of certain domestic violence crimes that are either first degree misdemeanors or felonies or is in prison due to circumstances that are grounds for terminating that person’s parental rights, the judge must assume that it would not be in the child’s best interest to give parental responsibility and time-sharing to that parent. However, that parent has the right to present evidence to try to change the judge’s mind and prove that it would not be harmful to the child to have parental responsibility or time-sharing.

Even if the parent has not been convicted of any offense of domestic violence or child abuse and even if you don’t have an injunction for protection against domestic violence, the judge will still consider any evidence of domestic violence or child abuse when deciding what type of parental responsibility or time-sharing the abuser will get. Evidence of abuse is viewed as evidence of harm to the child.1

If the judge decides to order visitation (time-sharing) by the parent who committed violence, you can ask that the visitation be supervised or very limited. The judge may do so if s/he believes it is necessary to protect your safety and the child’s safety. However, if the judge does not believe that you or your child remains at risk from the abuser, the judge may order unsupervised time-sharing.

If you feel there is a continuing risk of violence to you or your child, or if new incidents happen during the visitation, you may be able to apply for an injunction for protection against domestic violence to help keep you safe.

1 F.S.A. § 61.13(2)(c)(2)

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