The People’s Lawyer

How domestic violence impacts child custody decisions

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2024 | Family Law

Marriage can be messy at times. When it becomes too difficult to resolve a marital problem, couples often decide to end their marriage. For some, divorce could be an easy process, if they can reach a mutual agreement. But divorce involving domestic abuse is typically an intense battle.

Domestic violence is driven by a person’s desire to control their partner. It could be in the form of physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual abuse. Domestic violence could impact court decisions on divorce cases, particularly on child custody.

The lasting effect on children

A high-conflict household often traps children in the middle. Even if they are not the ones abused, merely witnessing violence could cause traumatic experiences for a child. It could also affect how they interact with people. Additionally, their exposure to domestic violence might make them more anxious or suspicious of people around them. It could also impact their perception of violence and control.  Children could even exhibit aggression or bullying tendencies as they grow up. When divorcing parents tackle child custody, it is crucial to prioritize the safety and well-being of their children.

Impact on Child Custody

West Virginia child custody courts honor joint custody’s importance and encourage separating parents to agree on legal custody and parenting time. But it becomes a different story when domestic violence is involved. The court puts a premium on what is best for the child, especially their well-being and safety. Domestic violence is a serious allegation, and the court would heavily consider it when establishing custody arrangements. Domestic abuse allegations would also impact the court’s decision on physical custody, parenting time, unmonitored visits and decision-making rights. The court could also issue a protective order if the child’s safety is compromised. Having enough proof of domestic violence, like medical records or police reports, could help support cases against domestic violence.

Marital conflicts are common and could arise for varied reasons, but violence is never the right way to address it. If you find yourself in this situation, it would be best to seek the professional knowledge of family law attorneys to protect you and your child.