How does domestic violence affect child custody?

Sharman L. Brooks

Incidents of domestic violence are taken very seriously. If you are a California parent who is going through a split and there’s a history of domestic violence in your relationship, it can affect child custody.

How domestic violence affects children

Sadly, more than 15 million children each year are witnesses to instances of domestic violence. This is a problem that has grown exponentially throughout the country. Domestic violence is one of the key reasons for the end of a romantic relationship. It’s very common for the abused party to file for divorce. After the split, child custody issues arise if there are children as part of the family.

When domestic violence is an issue and children are involved, the court takes it very seriously. The court will determine which parent is given physical custody or if both get custody. However, the one big factor in making such a determination is always what’s in the best interests of the child.

How does domestic violence affect child custody?

Domestic violence within a relationship that has children involved can significantly affect child custody . If there is sufficient evidence of domestic violence, such as police reports, medical records and protective orders, the court can deny custody to the abusive partner. This is especially true if the evidence shows that the parent may pose a danger to the child.

What factors does the court consider?

It’s important to know that the court doesn’t just accept one parent’s word over the other when there’s an allegation of domestic violence in a child custody case. The judge will consider the following to make a decision:

  • Whether the domestic violence affected the child or was directed at them
  • Whether the alleged abuser continues to pose a danger to the child or the other parent
  • How severe and often the domestic violence occurred
  • Whether the abuser has a criminal case pending against them
  • Physical evidence of domestic violence
  • Police reports that document the domestic violence

If the court finds that the domestic violence has negatively affected the child, it may act. The parent’s visitation rights may be temporarily revoked or for the long-term. The judge may order the individual to take anger management and parenting classes and issue the other parent an order of protection.

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