How A Family Law Attorney Can Help

How Will A Domestic Violence Claim Impact Your Custody Case?

If you've been the victim of domestic violence at the hands of your child's other parent, you may assume that this action will eliminate any chance that this parent will receive joint or shared custody of your child. However, these matters can be a bit more complex than they may seem. Often, without a misdemeanor or felony domestic abuse conviction, the other parent will have the same parenting rights you do. Read on to learn more about how courts treat allegations of domestic violence or domestic abuse in child custody cases, and how to help protect your child if you've been the victim of domestic abuse.

Will the courts grant you sole custody if you've been the victim of abuse?

If your child's other parent has engaged in verbal or physical domestic abuse against either you or your child, it's likely you want to do all you can to keep this person from causing further harm to either of you. However, because the U.S. Constitution guarantees to all parents the right to access and parent their children as they see fit, the actual process of protecting your child from an abusive parent is not so easy.

In general, unfounded allegations of domestic abuse or domestic violence will not be sufficient to grant full legal custody to the accusing party. If these allegations are substantiated, the court may order supervised visitation in a neutral location or require your child's other parent to take anger management or other self-help courses to try to come to grips with his or her abusive tendencies.

However, if you do choose to press charges against your abuser, an arrest or conviction on misdemeanor or felony domestic battery can go a long way toward protecting you and your child. Although joint custody is the norm in most states, courts will decline to grant this custody to a parent who has been convicted of a crime that involves misbehavior toward (or in the presence of) a child, such as domestic abuse or child molestation.

What should you do to protect your child from a domestic abuser?

Because courts are often reluctant to deny visitation to a parent who doesn't have a criminal record or documented history of violence or abuse, your best bet is to contact the police and press charges as soon as the abuse takes place. Having an arrest or conviction for domestic violence will give judges much more discretion in limiting access to children -- even the abuser's own child.

However, if the abuse took place in the past, there are still a couple of things you can do:

First, find witnesses to the abuse. If none are available, spend some time making notes. Write down everything you remember about the abuse, including times, dates, and any words that were spoken. Also be certain to document whether your child was present for the abuse (or whether your child was abused).

Next, come up with a plan. What can your child's other parent do to prove to you and to the court that he or she is trustworthy and can be a good caregiver for your child? You want to show the court that you are acting in good faith -- that you do not want to limit your child's access to his or her other parent out of spite, but out of a genuine concern for your child's well-being. By having specific conditions that can be enforced by the court, your efforts to limit your child's access to this person should be more successful.

To learn more, contact a company like with any questions or concerns you might have.