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How Does a Domestic Battery Charge Affect Child Custody?


In Florida, while domestic battery involves familial issues, domestic violence is a criminal law matter and is prosecuted by the State. If you are in the middle of a divorce with shared children and are seeking primary or joint custody, a domestic violence charge or conviction can severely hamper custody arrangements. Ultimately, a family law judge will award custody based on what is in the best interest of the child. Overcoming the nearly insurmountable burden of an open or closed domestic violence case can be difficult, and you are strongly encouraged to seek counsel for responding to a domestic violence allegation and for your divorce and child custody case. Attorney William Wallshein maintains a thriving family and criminal law practice. He understands how both issues often intersect, and he can provide expert guidance curtailed to your individual needs.

Navigating a DV Charge

If you were charged with domestic battery and a temporary restraining order has been issued against you, you have several options. In Florida, after a temporary order is  issued, the petitioner must serve the respondent with notice of a final protective order hearing within seven days. As a respondent, you have a right to attend the hearing with representation. But, if you do not attend, the judge can still make serious decisions about your custody and visitation rights, finances and home. You can lose custody and still be required to pay child support and for family use maintenance of the family vehicle, home, utilities and other bills, and you may be asked to attend counseling, anger management or other rehabilitative courses.

After a domestic violence criminal conviction, it may be difficult for you to obtain employment as you are required to disclose the conviction. You might also experience social stigma, damaged reputation and difficulty obtaining housing or enrolling in higher education. More importantly, losing custody of your children is devastating as a parent. Understand that you do have a right to representation at your hearing and at divorce and custody settlement conferences and final hearings. You must demonstrate to a judge that it is in the best interest of your child that custody be shared or that you receive unsupervised visitation if shared custody is no longer an option. It is never a bad idea to seek help for anger management or emotional issues if it will benefit you and your loved ones, so don’t put off seeking treatment if you think it will be painted negatively at a family law hearing.

Best Interest of the Child Standard

When making custody determinations, the court uses the best interest of the child standard. During a domestic violence hearing, if the parties share children, the judge will also make decisions regarding temporary custody arrangements utilizing the same standard. In Florida, the legislature defines 20 factors that contribute to the best interest of the child which can be found in Fla. Stat. 61.13. These factors include the parenting plan arrangements and capacity to communicate with the other parent fairly and in a safe manner. If the judge finds that arranging shared custody or even awarding visitation rights to a parent who has a proven track record of abuse, physical or verbal, would be emotionally detrimental or dangerous for the child, the judge has the authority to deny custody and visitation rights to that parent. If there are police reports, a criminal record or previous convictions for domestic violence on your record, it can be difficult to overcome and prove your fitness to a judge. Attorney Wallshein understands that past bad acts do not define a person’s character. He also understands how important maintaining a relationship with your children is. Do not be discouraged if you have a negative criminal or domestic history, but ensure that you have an experienced attorney at your side who can zealously advocate on your behalf.

Contact Attorney Wallshein Today

West Palm Beach domestic battery attorney William Wallshein serves clients throughout Palm Beach County for criminal defense and family law needs. If you have been served with papers regarding a domestic violence order, are in the middle of a custody battle or need advice for modifying a custody order he can assist you with emergency family issues. You should not attend a domestic violence hearing or attempt to negotiate custody without the help of an experienced attorney. Call Attorney Wallshein today to schedule a consultation.


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