Keeping children safe in Florida

A Florida parent who has been accused of a crime that involves a minor child may be subject to the presumption of detriment. This means that there is a risk to the child whenever that parent has visitation rights to or custody of that child. In some cases, the crime may be physical in nature such as hitting a child or taking the child out of state against a court order.

In other cases, the crime may be sexual in nature. It is possible that a parent who has committed a sexual assault against someone of any age could pose a risk to a child. Should a parent be accused of assaulting a child, that parent may lose rights to any siblings that the child may have if the risk of harm is great enough to the other children.

A parent may not have to commit a crime for a presumption of detriment to exist. If a parent has been accused of sexual abuse, it may be enough to look into whether a child is safe with that parent. The person making the accusation only has to have reasonable suspicion that the child is being abused. Additionally, there is no statute of limitations as to when the abuse occurred when making the determination as to if a child is at risk of being abused.

If a child is deemed to be in danger of being abused around one or both parents, it could lead to a one or both losing some or all of their visitation rights. If a parent is allowed to see a child, it may be in public only with supervision provided by a third-party. An attorney can assist a parent in establishing that their children will be safe and visitation is in their best interest.

Source: The Florida Bar Journal, "Florida Statute ยง39.0139: Limiting the Risk of Serious Harm to Children", Judge Sue Robbins, May 1, 2008

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