A family law judge’s primary responsibility in child custody cases is to render decisions that they believe are in your son or daughter’s best interests. Judges will often weigh many factors, including your ex’s history of domestic violence allegations, before deciding what child custody rights they should have.

How big of an issue is domestic violence in the United States?

Domestic violence has become an epidemic in this country in recent years and often motivates couples to split up. 

An estimated 15 million kids annually witness domestic violence in their homes. Judges tend not to look very favorably upon parents who engage in domestic violence and often deny them joint custody or liberal visitation rights. 

How can domestic violence allegations impact a child custody case?

Recent, documentable evidence or a lengthy history of past domestic violence may both lead a family law judge to conclude that both the parent victim and the child face a significant safety risk. 

Judges don’t generally take domestic violence allegations at face value, though out of fear that one partner may be trying to gain the upper hand in a child custody case. The judge presiding over your case may instead ask you and your ex to attend a hearing so that they can hear each of your perspectives about the alleged abuse and sort out the allegations’ veracity. 

There are a few factors that family law judges are bound to want to know more about regarding your situation, including whether the alleged domestic violence explicitly targeted your child or how their exposure to it in the home has negatively impacted them. 

They’ll also want to ascertain whether the apparent parent abuser continues to pose a potential danger by asking how aggressive and frequent any domestic violence occurs. A family law judge may also want to know if any criminal charges are pending against your child’s other parent and ask to see any physical evidence of the abuse such as photographs and hospital records or police reports that you may have.

When you’re worried about a custody case

It’s hard being a single parent and not knowing what’s going on when your child isn’t in your care. These concerns become magnified when you or your kids are domestic violence victims. A child custody attorney can help you build a case that justifies limiting an abusive ex’s access to your children.