domestic violence law

How does domestic violence affect child custody?

Domestic violence is a focal point of many mental health and child safety advocates, and rightfully so. Every year millions of children across the United States experience some form of domestic abuse. For this reason, divorce courts that determine child custody specifically arrange a home environment that is not dangerous for children or adults. This does not mean that parents ever accused of domestic violence will never receive custody of their children, but they are rare.

The factors that go into child custody

During all court decisions, the ultimate goal is what is best for the well-being of the children. Therefore if someone is convicted of domestic violence, it will certainly play a role in the decision making process. This does not mean that a divorcing spouse can allege domestic abuse and will always win a custody battle. Without any supporting documentation or evidence, the court may consider the claim as opinion instead of fact. Knowing this, a spouse who has been the victim of domestic violence should take photographs, keep threatening texts and voicemails, and tell friends about the abuse. They should also contact law enforcement during or after an altercation. That way, the spouse has proof of the allegations.

Partners and Domestic Violence

Divorced parents sometimes cohabitate with a new spouse or remarry. In these situations, the new romantic partner may have a record of domestic violence or may be suspected of committing violence against an ex-spouse or children. Courts that are made aware of this type of situation may alter a prior custody decision.

Is It Possible to Regain Custody After Domestic Violence Allegations?

A parent who loses sole or joint custody because of a presumption of domestic violence has some recourse, depending on the circumstances. By going through therapy, attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, or following court-ordered treatment programs, the spouse may provide enough supporting evidence to show that he or she is no longer a threat. Though this might not be enough to win joint custody, it could make spending time with their children a possibility.

Reporting Suspected Domestic Violence

If a court awards joint or shared custody, one parent may suspect the other of domestic violence against the child. At that point, the concerned parent should speak with an attorney well-versed in the matters of family law. A custody decision can be modified if evidence proves that a child may be living in an unsafe environment.

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