Can a parent who committed violence get custody (parental responsibility) or visitation (time-sharing)?
In any of the following circumstances, the judge must assume that it would not be in the child’s best interest to give parental responsibility and time-sharing – however, the parent has the right to present evidence to try to change the judge’s mind (known as a “rebuttable presumption”):
- the parent has been convicted of certain domestic violence crimes that are first degree misdemeanors or felonies;
- the parent is in prison due to circumstances that would be grounds for terminating that person’s parental rights as are explained in subsection (d) of FL Statute § 39.806;
- the parent has been convicted of, or had adjudication withheld for, various crimes related to sexual misconduct or kidnapping of a victim who was under 18 or who appeared to be under 18. You can view the list of crimes in subsection (1)(h)(1)(a) of FL Statute § 943.0435.1
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.2
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), (2)(c)(5)
2 F.S.A. § 61.13(2)(c)(2)