The Impact Domestic Violence Can Have on Child Custody During Divorce
The family court system takes very seriously any allegations that domestic violence has happened in a marriage, especially those who have children together. Because of the severity of such accusations, the courts tend to want to investigate the situation further and decide whether the violent parent should not be granted some degree of custody. If there is evidence that the parent had caused substantial mental and/or physical harm to their spouse and child, then the judge may have to revoke that parent’s rights to visitation after divorce.
As a parent going through such a predicament with the help of a child custody lawyer in Fairfax, VA, here’s what you need to know about child custody cases that involve domestic violence incidents:
The Harm Violence Causes Children
Even if children do not see the violence happen themselves, seeing the consequences of a physical altercation after the fact or simply hearing about it from someone else can cause emotional damage. Statistically, more than three million children see acts of domestic violence occur within their own home each year. Unfortunately, domestic violence is a serious epidemic in American life.
It isn’t uncommon for domestic violence to be the final catalyst that causes one spouse to leave and petition for divorce. If there are children, then the next big dispute will be over child custody.
Evidence of Domestic Violence
The verdict of a child custody case with accusations of domestic violence will ultimately depend on the credibility and strength of the evidence brought forward. Evidence that shows physical or mental harm done to one spouse from the other can have a significant influence on whether the violent parent will be permitted to see their children without professional supervision. The court may take actions so that the other spouse and child are not at-risk for further mistreatment.
Examples of proof that can make a difference in a child custody battle include:
- Photographs of bruises, marks, or wounds on the victim parent.
- Video recordings of the abusive parent harming their spouse and/or child, inflicting either physical damage or hurtful language.
- Witness testimony from anyone who has seen the abusive parent become aggressive or violent towards others, particularly the spouse and/or child.
- Doctor’s exams that state domestic violence as a cause of the appointment, along with a description of the injuries.
- Therapist notes regarding the abused spouse seeking mental health support after suffering from mistreatment at home.
Factors Taken Into Consideration By the Court
The court will not just take the accusation at face value and enforce repercussions on the supposed abusive spouse. The court will want to know more about the type, severity, and duration of domestic violence occurred in the home. Factors that are often taken into consideration by the family court judge include:
- Whether the domestic violence had an effect on the child
- Whether the abusive parent poses a danger to the spouse and/or child
- The frequency of the abuse
- Whether there is a criminal case filed against the abusive spouse
- Police reports that document incidents of domestic violence
Thanks to May Law, LLP for their insight into family law and how domestic violence can impact child custody.