If you have been served with a Restraining Order or Injunction for Protection from Domestic Violence, along with fearing the criminal penalties that may follow, you may also fear the ramifications such judgments will have on your child custody arrangement. If you are involved in a restraining order and fear it may affect your relationship with your child, contact a Florida Child Custody Attorney to discuss your options and ways to protect your parental rights.
Under Florida statute 741.28 domestic violence entails 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.” Therefore, in order for an individual to obtain a restraining order the court must first find there to be a special relationship between you and the victim. This relationship may include a spouse, dating partner, or individual you share a child with. Further, the court must find that an act of domestic violence has occurred, and the victim is in need of protection from future abuse. These acts can include threats that place the victim in fear of physical harm, or physical acts that inflict damage on the victim.
With such serious allegations, the court will take this into account in regards to child custody, and in fact is required to make specific findings related to the child’s welfare in relation to the domestic violence. In Florida, all items concerning a child are evaluated under the best interest of the child standard. This standard is laid out in Florida statute 61.13, noting twenty factors for the court to consider, however, this list is not exhaustive. Most relevant here, one of the elements Florida statute requires a court to consider is “evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, regardless of whether a prior or pending action relating to those issues has been brought. If the court accepts evidence of prior or pending actions regarding domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, the court must specifically acknowledge in writing that such evidence was considered when evaluating the best interests of the child.” Therefore, if an action of domestic violence has occurred the court is required to take note and make specific findings on how it relates to the child’s best interests.
There are many ways the court may account for your restraining order in your child custody arrangement. The court will look to the severity of the harm caused, if the child was present during these actions, if the harm was of the nature to also affect the child, and the repetitive nature of these violent actions. If the court deems there to be no detrimental harm to the child will occur with continued visitation and custody with the parent, the court may simply place in protocols to limit the contact between the parents of the child to abide by the restraining order. However, if the court finds necessary action needs to be taken in order to protect the child, they may limit the timesharing between the minor child and convicted abuser, provide for visitation to be supervised by a third party, or remove visitation completely.
It is likely a restraining order will affect your child custody arrangement and can result in severe impacts on the relationship between you and your child. Therefore, it is important to seek counsel from an experienced Florida Child Custody Attorney to provide you with guidance and protect your parental rights.
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