Domestic violence is a severe crime under Florida law, especially when it involves physical violence or actions that put someone at risk.
In Florida, domestic violence includes assault, battery, stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any other crime resulting in the physical injury or death of a household member by another member of the household.
Victims of abuse often have difficulty leaving abusive relationships. As victims try to escape, they are also at their most vulnerable. Abused children may be unable to escape their situation at all. The state of Florida provides resources for those dealing with family violence. Courts will consider current and past family violence during divorce and child custody proceedings.
Statistics on Domestic Violence
According to statistics on domestic violence:
- Domestic violence affects a woman every nine seconds in the United States.
- During their lifetime, one in three women will be physically abused or coerced into having sex.
- Domestic abuse is the leading cause of injury to women.
- Approximately 10 million children witness domestic abuse each year.
- Approximately three women are murdered by their male partners daily in the US.
- Nearly 8 million work days are lost annually to domestic abuse victims in the United States.
- US intimate partner violence costs more than $5.8 billion annually: $4.1 billion for direct medical and health care services and $1.8 billion for productivity losses.
- Children who witnessed their parent’s domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own spouses than those who lived with nonviolent parents.
When a Family Member Commits Domestic Violence, What Should I Do?
You or your children should not tolerate family violence, and safety should be your first priority.
The following steps can be taken:
- Protect your driver’s license and birth certificate by keeping them in a secure location.
- Copying insurance information, bank statements, and other important documents.
- Safely remove your children from the abuser’s house.
- If you think you are in danger, you should call the police.
- Identify resources that can help.
- Talk to a family violence lawyer about your options.
Domestic Violence and Custody Decisions
In Florida, judges presumptively share custody between both parents unless doing so will harm the child. If a parent is convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge or worse, the courts presume that giving that parent custody will be detrimental to the child. A parent who has been convicted must prove to the court that they should share custody and visitation with the other parent.
Regardless of whether there is a conviction, a judge will take into account any evidence of domestic violence or child abuse. In all custody cases, the parents must disclose any domestic violence, injunctions, or terminations of parental rights with other children to the judge.
The Florida courts will also presume that parents convicted of sexual abuse, battery, lewd behavior, kidnapping, incest, indecent exposure, or physical abuse with a child shouldn’t have custody or visitation. The act of removing your child from the other parent to prevent domestic violence is not considered kidnapping.
A court hearing will be held to resolve whether a convicted parent and the child should have any contact. The judge must be confident that the child’s safety, well-being, and physical, mental, and emotional health are not endangered before allowing visitation between a child and convicted parent.
Judges make visitation arrangements to protect children and abused parents from further harm.
The Termination of Parental Rights
A judge may terminate parental rights in rare and extreme circumstances when it is in the child’s best interests to do so.
Parental rights may be terminated when one parent:
- Is a violent career offender.
- Is a convicted sexual predator.
- Sexually abuses or commits aggravated child abuse against the child.
- Has been convicted of first or second-degree murder.
- Conspired with someone or hired someone to murder the other parent or child.
- Committed a felony first-degree sexual battery (the highest level of felony in Florida).
Before terminating parental rights, the court will also consider the child’s age, relationship with the parent, and other relevant factors.
Consult us if you have other questions about Florida’s domestic violence, or go to our Child Custody page to find out more.
The Hache Law Firm provides legal representation and assistance to stalking and sexual violence victims. Consultations, referrals, representation at final hearings for civil Injunctions for Protection, and credit repair representation are included in our services.
If you or your child are the victims of violent domestic abuse, you don’t have to feel alone.
Our expert team is expert in areas like mediation and collaborative law, as well as prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. Our focus is to provide a holistic and empathetic approach to family law.
Contact the Hache Law Firm to schedule an appointment and discuss your domestic violence issue.