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How Domestic Abuse May Affect Parental Time Sharing And Responsibility In Florida

In divorce situations that involve allegations of domestic abuse, or where a court has ordered one spouse to stay away from the family home and the other spouse and sometimes the couple’s children, issues of parenting time may become more complicated than in other divorces. When there is a legitimate concern about a spouse’s safety or the safety of the children, the court can order certain steps be taken if it orders that the abusive parent receive parenting time or some parental responsibility.

If the allegations of abuse are restricted to the spouse, that is, the abusive spouse does not abuse the couple’s children, courts do not generally sever the ties between the abusive parent and the children. Courts look to the best interests of the child when deciding which parent gets primary parental responsibility and whether the other parent gets time sharing or visitation with the children. This means that an abusive spouse can still get time with the children. In a situation where there is an order of protection against one parent that does not cover the children, a third party can work with the parents to ensure the children are taken from one parent to another without the order being violated.

One way children can be protected if there is a danger of abuse from a parent is through supervised parenting time. Supervised visits may be ordered if a parent has been neglectful, harmed or threatened harm to the child. In some cases, the court may order a parent’s time sharing to be supervised until the parent undergoes some type of evaluation or treatment for issues relating to mental health or substance abuse. If the person overseeing the supervised visits suspects abuse, the person is required to report the abuse to appropriate authorities.

There has to be a documented history of the parent’s behavior being a danger to the child. If a parent is concerned about how the other parent treats the children, they can begin documenting the neglectful or abusive behavior, and call the police if necessary. Some methods of collecting the necessary evidence may not be legal, therefore, parents who wish to document the other parent’s interactions with the children should consult with their attorneys first.

If the allegations of abuse or neglect are used as a way to gain an upper hand in a divorce, it can backfire on the parent making the allegations when it comes to a judge deciding if the parent is likely to foster a relationship between the children and the other parent for purposes of awarding primary parental responsibility. This is one of the factors the courts look at when awarding parental responsibility or custody.

Let Us Help You

If you are in an abusive marriage and are considering separation or divorce, you should contact an experienced and compassionate divorce attorney who can guide you through the process and help you apply for an order of protection if necessary. To schedule a consultation with our compassionate and experienced Boca Raton, Florida divorce attorneys, contact us at Law Offices of Schwartz l White for legal assistance.

Resources:

leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0741/Sections/0741.30.html

leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0000-0099/0039/Sections/0039.201.html

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