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Does Domestic Violence Impact Child Custody?

Domestic violence is a major issue in divorce cases involving children.  As a Louisville divorce attorney, I’m frequently asked, “Does domestic violence impact child custody?”  Sometimes it’s the spouse who hopes to protect herself and her children from an abusive partner.  In other situations, if may be a spouse who’s concerned the other spouse may intent to make accusations of domestic violence in an effort to gain an advantage.

I blogged last month about child custody and domestic violence.  It’s a complex component in an already emotionally charged situation.  This video underscores the difficulty in reaching a co-parenting agreement.  Remember, the court places immense focus in trying to do what’s in the best interest of the children.

Where there are real and documented instances of domestic violence, the court and the experts involved in third-party evaluations, are seeking to ensure the safety and security of the children, in addition to their emotional well-being.

Does domestic violence impact child custody?  Yes.  The presence of domestic violence in any relationship has both an immediate and a long-term impact.

In the short-term, judges may find it difficult to expose the children to more dysfunction.  In fact, depending upon the evidence, domestic violence could result in severe limits (including limited, supervised visitation) on the time a violent parent has with his/her child.

In the long-term, domestic violence can result in severe emotional trauma for the child or children.  These emotional scars can cause relational-dysfunctionality as the child gets older and seeks a partner for herself/himself.  Often, physical and emotional abuse experienced at an early age can lead to issues with self-confidence, coping skills and many other aspects of a person’s life.

Evaluators and judges realize these factors.  Nevertheless, the judge must make a determination based on the benefit to the child/children, as well as the other parent.  Safety and security are valid concerns.

Does domestic violence impact child custody?  Absolutely.  I may also have lasting effects on the children as they grow older.