Can he get custody if he has a history of domestic abuse?
The laws surrounding divorce and custody can be extremely complicated, and matters get even more complex when domestic abuse is also brought up. If your spouse has a history of domestic violence, it is understandable to want to keep your children away from him. Though domestic abuse does not automatically prevent a person from ever seeing their children, it can greatly improve your chances of getting total custody. To fully understand how domestic abuse may affect the custody hearing for your divorce, keep reading this article.
What Counts as Domestic Abuse?
Legally speaking, domestic abuse is a fairly broad category. It can be a wide range of felony or misdemeanors that involve some sort of violence being committed towards a spouse, partner, child, family member, or someone else living in a home with a person. It can take many forms, including physical violence, emotional manipulation, threats, molestation, or verbal abuse. In general, anything that involves your ex being cruel or controlling towards you, your child, past partners, other children, siblings, or parents may be relevant when determining custody.
How Will Abuse Affect the Court’s Decision About Custody?
When a court is hearing a custody case, the main thing they will be considering is simply what the best interests of your child will be. The things you bring up in court will affect the judge’s decision of course, but their primary goal will just to decide what is best for the child. Because there is a high risk of a child being hurt by a domestic abuser, most courts will tend to act very conservatively in cases that involve domestic abuse. They will typically try to be on the safe side and avoid awarding custody to a domestic abuser.
However, a history of domestic abuse does not automatically mean that you will win full custody. Even if the person was already convicted of domestic violence, the court may still consider custody if the incidents were not directed at the child. They may also consider providing custody if the incidents were far in the past and the abuser has completed some sort of domestic abuse rehabilitation program. Your behavior and past may play a part in this sort of situation, because the court will be trying to decide whether it is safer to award you total custody or go with some sort of other option.
Can an Abuser Still Have Visitation Rights?
Though it is rather are for a domestic abuser to actually get full or partial custody of a child, this does not mean that a history of domestic abuse will keep your ex from ever seeing the child. Courts determine visitation separate from custody, so something that blocks a person from getting custody may not block them from getting visitation rights. This occurs because courts generally feel it is best for a child to have a relationship with both of their parents.
It may be possible for a domestic abuser to have visitation rights, but you and your lawyer may be able to show that it is a good idea for the court to limit these visits. Depending on the situation, the court may limit visitation rights to brief visits or order supervised visits only. Any sort of claims of past domestic abuse can affect the type of visitation rights that the court awards to a person.
What Should You Do If an Abusive Ex Wants Custody?
Keep in mind that courts will not automatically decide in your favor simply because you tell them that your ex partner was abusive. They will take into account allegations of domestic violence, but it is generally best to have some proof that it occurred. If your ex was actually convicted of domestic abuse, it will be very easy to prove. However, your spouse does not necessarily have to be convicted to lose custody. In some cases, even accusations or allegations may be enough to reduce a person’s chances of getting custody. You may be able to tell the court about the abuse with things like photos of injuries, police reports, or witnesses testifying on your behalf.
To keep an abusive ex partner from getting custody, it is useful to have plenty of proof and help from a professional attorney. Having a good lawyer on your side will help you to more accurately explain your situation and show the court why it is in your child’s best interest to stay away from your ex. Since each specific state tends to have their own unique laws surrounding custody and domestic abuse, you will need someone who is quite knowledgeable about custody law in your state. Navigating all of the challenges of a child custody case with domestic abuse will be tricky, but there is hope that you may be able to get the best possible outcome.