Domestic violence and child custody in California

08 Oct Domestic violence and child custody in California

California couples would agree that divorce can be tough for children of divorcing couples. As the war of words breaks out between a couple, emotions can turn ugly and children may feel insecure. Typically, one parent has the physical custody of the child while the non-custodial parent is responsible in part for supporting the child financially. Child custody can become a complicated issue in cases of domestic violence if one parent has been abusive toward a child or toward the other parent.

There are agencies that provide legal help for issues related to child custody. In the best interest of the child, the court may order that the abusive parent visit the child only when a third person is present. This type of visitation is known as supervised visitation. The judge may order supervised visitation for many different reasons, including giving a parent the opportunity to address some issues or helping to reintroduce a parent to a child after a long period of absence.

The judge will take instances of domestic violence into consideration when granting child custody, even though the instances may have occurred in the distant past. The judge will never give sole custody to a parent against whom there have been complaints of domestic violence. However, if the parent can prove that giving that parent sole custody is in the best interest of the child, the court will decide accordingly. If the parent has completed a 52-week intervention program, which is designed specifically for people who have committed domestic violence, the court can grant child custody to that parent.

There are also certain other instances when a court will give child custody to a parent despite complaints of domestic violence against that parent. For instance, if the parent had a substance abuse problem and has completed substance abuse counseling, has completed a parenting class ordered by the court or is on parole and has successfully completed it and has not committed any further domestic violence.

Source: Courts.CA.gov, “Custody and Domestic Violence,” accessed on Sept. 29, 2014

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