On February 2, Isidro Zavala broke into his estranged wife’s Boynton Beach home. In front of his wife, Zavala strangled one son and then shot the other, before fatally shooting himself. According to a letter left by Zavala, he was angry about the divorce and “tired of being good.”
How domestic violence affects your rights
Domestic violence is a severe problem that affects both men and women alike. In 2011, there were 11,681 domestic violence offenses reported in the State of Florida. But unfortunately, we may never know the true extent of the problem. Many victims of domestic violence do not report the abuse due to shame or fear. Further, an accusation of domestic violence can affect your parenting rights.
In Florida, every divorcing couple with children must create a parenting plan, which determines each parent’s responsibilities. A parenting plan includes a time-sharing schedule (custody), daily child rearing tasks and decision-making authority. This is also available for unwed parents. A charge of domestic violence can negatively impact your claim for time-sharing.
Best interests of the child
When considering parental issues, Florida courts base their decisions on the best interest of the child standard. In approving a parenting plan, a court makes a determination based on 20 factors — one of which involves evidence of domestic abuse. Thus, if you are accused of violence within the home, your time-sharing rights could be diminished or even eliminated. But further, evidence that a party made false accusations of domestic violence is also considered in determining a time-sharing agreement.
It is very rare for a court to order time-sharing rights to a sole parent, but it’s still possible. For this to occur, the court would need to determine that time-sharing between both parents would cause harm to the child. If there is strong evidence of domestic violence or child abuse, sole parenting may be ordered.
If you’ve been accused of domestic violence, an experienced family law attorney can defend your time-sharing rights. When it comes to your children, a dedicated attorney can make all the difference.