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Abusive relationships and custody challenges

Some parents in Florida who leave abusive relationships may still have a long custody battle ahead of them. Unfortunately, allegations of abuse may be dismissed in courtrooms that are focused on making sure children are able to spend time with both parents.

One problem, experts say, is that custody evaluators might lack experience in domestic violence cases. They may think that an abused parent will act sad and depressed instead of angry, or they might even declare a parent mentally unstable if that parent suffers from PTSD as a result of the abuse. A model guideline published in 2016 by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts called for evaluators to be trained or get supervision or a professional consultation if they are unfamiliar with domestic violence. It also said that any indicators of domestic abuse should be investigated. Confirmed abuse could lead to supervised visitation for the abuser.

A congressional resolution introduced two years ago by a Texas representative calls for similar changes. It would require any claims of abuse to be thoroughly investigated before a child custody case moves forward. The abuser could have contact with the child and the other parent cut off. However, despite gaining bipartisan support, the resolution has been in committee for two years although it may come up for a vote before the end of this session.

A parent leaving a relationship in which there was domestic violence might want to discuss the situation with an attorney at a Venice, Florida child custody law firm. Documentation, such as police or hospital reports, may help the parent's case. If the child's well-being is in danger because of neglect or the other parent's substance abuse, it might also be possible to restrict that parent to limited supervision. However, if a parent simply disapproves of the other's lifestyle, a court is unlikely to restrict the other parent's access.

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