Florida is a no-fault divorce state, so you do not need to establish fault to be granted a divorce from your spouse. However, if you are being victimized by your partner and you have minor children in the home, establishing domestic abuse would be necessary to protect your children from your partner. Living through domestic violence can be a scarring experience, and the burden of trying to prove your case in court can add to the emotional toll. If you are divorcing an abusive spouse and want to seek sole custody of minor children or seek a restraining order for protection, you will need proof that your spouse is a danger to you and your children.
In Florida, domestic violence is considered any situation that meets the following criteria:
- Physical Abuse: Assault or abuse with or without visible injury that includes hitting, biting, beating, unwanted touching, shoving, kicking, and punching)
- Threats of Bodily Harm
- Unwanted Sexual Interactions
While every state has different laws regarding evidence in these types of cases, Florida requires evidence that the alleged abusive spouse intentionally touched or struck another person in the home to intentionally inflict bodily harm. While photo evidence is worthwhile evidence, alone, it’s not enough to prove intent. Your claim will need more than your testimony and photos. So, if you are seeking sole custody of your children, you will need to compile documentation of a history of abuse suffered in the home.
Often, this can be a dangerous endeavor. Abusive partners may sense that you are building a case against them or lash out in retaliation for your attempt to separate and leave the marriage. It’s important to maintain your safety and that of your children while attempting to build a domestic abuse case. Your lawyer can help you develop a strategy and find evidence to support your domestic abuse charge against your spouse. Your divorce attorney can help you establish a timeline and collect evidence of abuse using:
- Cell Phone Records
- Witness Testimony
- Security Camera Images
- Medical Evidence
How Domestic Violence Affects Child Custody
When a parent is divorcing and leaving behind an abusive relationship, child custody becomes a central concern. Visitation and custody sharing can be a challenging topic when the relationship between the two parents is nonexistent. Family court judges focus their attention and rulings on making decisions in the best interest of the minor children. While family courts have shown a commitment to preserving the parental relationship by favoring joint custody in most situations, domestic violence in the home can be a serious factor in a sole custody decision. The judge in the custody case will consider additional evidence regarding the domestic violence claims.
The judge is looking specifically for evidence of:
- Any convictions of domestic violence
- A history of domestic violence if there are no convictions
- Evidence of child endangerment or conduct that negatively impact the child’s well-being
Being awarded sole legal custody doesn’t mean that parents charged or convicted of domestic violence will be shut out of their child’s life. The abusive parent could still be awarded visitation after the judge has assessed all safety concerns or recommendations of supervised visitation.
How Serious is a Domestic Violence Charge?
Domestic violence is a serious problem, and whether you have been charged with domestic violence or you’ve been abused, it’s advised you seek the advice of a Miami divorce attorney to help you navigate your next steps. Beatriz Zyne, P.A., can help you develop a strategy for your case so you’re prepared for court. Call us now at (305) 876-6138 to schedule a consultation.