A lot has been done to raise awareness and prevent domestic violence, but the truth is that it still happens to this date. Most parents who are in abusive marriages hold on just to protect their children. The abused party can decide to stay simply because they are afraid that the abuser may be child custody in the divorce case.
In most areas, there is no particular law that specifies which parent gets custody in a divorce case. Nonetheless, a judge will more than likely factor in domestic abuse in a relationship when making a custody judgement.
Domestic violence overview
In the majority of cases, victims of domestic abuse think they haven't been abused simply because they were not physically harmed. As you can expect, someone who doesn't feel like they have been victimised wont bother to seek any help.
That's why it's important to understand what domestic violence entails. In most areas, domestic violence is defined as:
Recklessly or intentionally causing or trying to cause physical injuries.
Disturbing the other partner's peace
Destroying someone's personal property
Any other behaviour such as stalking, threats, harassment and more that could lead to a domestic protective order being issued by a court
What factors are considered in court?
The effect of domestic violence is detrimental to any child, regardless of whether the violence was directed towards the child or their parents. When making a custody decision, therefore, the judge has to concentrate on choices that are in the best interests of the child.
The most commonly considered factors include, but are not limited to the following:
The child's preferences
Each parent's ability and willingness to encourage a relationship between the kid and the other parent
Each parent's capability to provide for the child
How much each parent cares for the child
The relationship between the child and each parent as well as other family members
The frequency of the acts of violence or abuse
The provided testimonies
Domestic violence and custody
One of the things that should be clear is that domestic violence is not the only factor that is considered when making a custody decision. As mentioned earlier, the main focus is on making a decision based on what is best for the child.
Considering that domestic violence is just one of the numerous factors that are put to attention when determining custody, it's still possible to have custody granted to the parent accused of domestic violence. Custody can also be given to the non-violent parent, but the abuser can still qualify for parenting time, commonly referred to as visitation, unless in extreme circumstances.
If, however, you are able to prove to the judge that granting parenting time to the abusive parent is not in the best interests of the child, the judge can make a different decision. The most common decision in such a case is limiting parenting time, or restricting it to special conditions such as supervised visitation.
However, visitation under special conditions is supposed to last for some time, after which the judge can determine that its now safe to have unsupervised visitation. If the parent granted custody fears for their safety and that of the child, they can request to have exchanges of their child at a police precinct or any other public place that feels safe.
Domestic violence is more common than it appears to be. If you are or know someone that is under threat, the best thing to do is contact a domestic violence hotline or inform law enforcement officials. Its important to note, however, that even though family violence is one of the major factors considered when making a child custody decision, there is no direct answer as to how the violence will affect the decision.
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