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Florida Legal Blog

Custody remains a tool for abusers to victimize others

Parents in Florida and throughout the country may believe that an abusive spouse or partner won't have rights to the victim's child. However, courts may disregard previous abuse in child custody cases. In some cases, a judge may be swayed by the fact that a parent is making an effort to be in a son or daughter's life. For some who have prior instances of abuse, obtaining custody of a child is an attempt to further control the victim.

When an abuser attempts to gain custody of a child, it can be referred to as coercive control. It tends to involve tactics such as talking poorly about a victim in front of the children or to the children directly. As a general rule, people who have abused their spouses tend to have a parenting style that is not conductive to raising a child.

Visitation and types of custody

When a parent in Florida gets a divorce, they might have to share custody or agree to certain visitation rights. Although custody and visitation are often talked about together, they are not the same thing.

While visitation refers to a parent's right to time with a child, it may not include the right to have the child live with that parent. A common schedule for visitation is the child spending every alternate weekend and one weeknight with the noncustodial parent.

The major concerns in child custody cases

For parents in Florida dealing with a divorce or the end of a relationship, the most complex and difficult questions to resolve often relate to caring for their children. Child custody decisions can be contentious and painful as both parents often seek the maximum amount of time with their children. When parents can come to an agreement among themselves, they can often develop a mutual understanding about how to handle custody issues. In many cases, however, the court must make a determination as to how custody will be handled.

There are several factors that frequently arise during child custody disputes, including financial security, general stability in life, living circumstances, sibling relationships and the bond between the children and the parents. Courts dealing with such issues have a mandate to prioritize the best interests of the children, including their health, education and general welfare.

When is a guardian ad litem necessary?

A guardian ad litem (GAL) is an impartial court appointed person that acts as a representative in the best interests of a minor child. In situations when a GAL has been appointed, the court has identified a need for a person to protect the interests of the child, who is unable to protect themselves.

Appointment of a GAL

Three tips to making visitation a happy experience

Divorce is often an emotionally taxing time. But when you and your ex have kids together, they may have to split their time between you and their other parent. The prospect of only seeing your kids every few days—or weeks—can be devastating.

Although a visitation arrangement may be far from ideal, approaching it in the right way can help maximize enjoyment for both you and your kids. Today we provide three tips to making the best out of a difficult situation:

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