How Domestic Violence Allegations Can Affect Disputes Over Child Custody
Domestic violence allegations can have a substantial impact on ongoing divorce and child custody proceedings. Under Florida law, a judge can issue a permanent injunction against a spouse accused of committing acts of domestic violence. In some cases, such an injunction may be in force even if the accused spouse is no longer physically present in the state.
Florida Court Approves Emergency Parenting Plan Despite Child’s Kuwaiti Citizenship
A recent decision from the Florida Third District Court of Appeal in Miami, Alobaid v. Khan, provides a helpful example. This case involves a husband and wife who maintained a “long-distance marriage.” The husband is a Kuwaiti citizen who maintains a residence in that country, while the wife is a Miami native who remained in Florida. The couple had one child, who was born in January 2018.
In November 2018, the wife asked a Florida judge to issue a domestic violence injunction against her husband. According to the Third District, the wife maintained that the husband had been “physically and verbally abusive with her since the beginning of the marriage, and that the abuse had increased in frequency after the child’s birth.” At a hearing, the appeals court noted the husband “confirmed” the “veracity” of the wife’s allegations.
A Miami-Dade judge not only granted the wife a three-year domestic violence injunction; he also approved a temporary plan granting the wife full custody of the child, with the husband only permitted supervised visitation through Family Court Services.
The father appealed the judge’s rulings, in part by challenging the Miami court’s personal jurisdiction. As noted above, the husband is a resident of Kuwait. However, as the Third District pointed out, the husband was personally served with the wife’s complaint while he was “voluntarily present in Florida,” which by itself authorized the Miami-Dade court to hear the wife’s case. Additionally, the judge could exercise jurisdiction over the husband under Florida’s “long-arm statute,” as the alleged acts of domestic violence occurred in Florida.
The appeals court also rejected the husband’s challenge to the Miami court’s decision to temporarily grant the wife full custody of the couple’s child. The husband insisted that since Kuwait was the child’s legal home, the Kuwaiti courts should exercise jurisdiction. But while normally a child’s “home state” normally has “priority” in custody cases, the appeals court noted that U.S. and international law makes an exception for “temporary emergency situations.” Here, the wife’s evidence of domestic violence was such an emergency situation. So “regardless of whether Florida or Kuwait is deemed the child’s home state in the ongoing family proceedings,” the Third District explained, “the domestic violence court properly invoked jurisdiction to enter a temporary time-sharing plan.”
Speak with a Florida Domestic Violence & Family Law Attorney Today
Domestic violence allegations often require Florida courts to take immediate action. If you are involved in a divorce or custody dispute where domestic violence is an issue, it is critical you receive competent legal advice from a qualified Boca Raton family law attorney. Contact the offices of WiseLieberman, PLLC, at 561-488-7788 today to schedule a confidential consultation.