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How does domestic violence affect child custody?

Unfortunately, domestic violence is a common problem in households in the United States. It is thought that a minimum of 3 million children in the United States are witness to domestic violence every year.

It goes without saying that acts of domestic violence create a hostile household environment, and can directly lead to the breakup of families. Therefore, issues of child custody battles that are a result of past domestic violence are a very frequent occurrence.

What will the courts decide when one parent has been accused of domestic violence?

The courts have the primary responsibility to make a ruling based on what is in the best interests of the child in question. They will, therefore, first consider the credibility of the accusation, as well as the seriousness of the offense. Any proof of a violent history will not help a child custody case.

They will then apply their findings to how the child could be affected as a result. They will determine whether the previous acts of domestic violence were directed at the child or if they negatively affected the child. It will also be questioned whether the parent poses any current or future danger to the child based on previous allegations.

Depending on the outcome of these considerations, a judge will rule for shared custody or order supervised visitation in the attempt to protect the child further. They also recognize, however, that it is usually best for both parents to have a relationship with their child. If you are concerned how domestic violence can affect a child custody ruling, you should make sure to apply your situation to legal guidelines.

Source: The Spruce, "Domestic Violence in Child Custody Cases," accessed Feb. 22, 2018

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