How Family Disputes and Domestic Violence Affect Child Custody

How Family Disputes and Domestic Violence Affect Child Custody

March 8, 2019

If you are working on getting out of an abusive or violent relationship, it is important that you take steps to protect your children as well as yourself, including discussing the situation with your divorce lawyer in Lubbock, TX. Courts will take allegations of domestic violence in your home extremely seriously as you go through the divorce process, and they understand the effects that such violence can have on a child. Statistics indicate there are about three million children who witness acts of domestic violence in their homes each year. Even if children are not the direct physical victims of the abuse, they are still victims with regard to the psychological harm that can be caused by witnessing it.

The court will, therefore, take evidence of accusations of domestic violence, whether recent or in the past, into consideration when determining child custody arrangements. A court is fully within its scope and power to deny custody to a parent who has been accused of domestic violence if it finds credibility in these accusations and if it determines the parent poses a danger to the child or to the child’s other parent.

Keep in mind that a court will not just take the parent’s word as gospel when investigating accusations of domestic violence during custody hearings. Judges will also consider factors such as:

  • Whether the alleged instances of abuse or violence were directed at the child or otherwise affected the child
  • Whether the person accused of domestic violence currently poses a threat to the child or to the other parent
  • Whether there is any pending criminal case against the person accused of violence
  • Whether there is any physical evidence or record of abuse, such as photographs or existing bruises
  • Whether there are any police reports on file documenting such instances of abuse
  • The severity and frequency of the domestic violence incidents, taken into consideration as a predictor of future behavior

Effects domestic violence has on custody and visitation

If the court determines the person accused of abuse is in fact a danger to the child or the other parent, there are a variety of potential effects. The court may choose to entirely revoke the accused parent’s visitation rights, either temporarily or on a long-term basis, but more common would be an order of supervised visitation, in which a police officer or social worker must be present during the entire visitation period.

Other steps the court may take could include changing the existing visitation order, including revoking overnight visits or long-term visits. The court might also order the accused to take anger management or parenting classes, or to participate in domestic violence counseling. If the accused has a history of substance abuse, counseling and support groups for those substances may also be mandated. Finally, the court could approve a restraining order or order of protection against the accused on behalf of the alleged victim.

For more information about the effects domestic violence and family disputes can have on child custody, contact the Law Office of Rob Biggers to speak with an experienced divorce lawyer in Lubbock, TX.

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