How Domestic Violence Affects Child Custody
Domestic violence is the most common felony offense in the U.S., and it goes largely unreported. Another unreported aspect of domestic violence is when the abuser harms their own child, which is more common than the average person might think. In fact, 30 to 60 percent of children living in abusive homes are, in addition to the other victim, physically or sexually abused themselves, according to Stop Violence Against Women. This startling fact is one of the main reasons that judges side with the victims of domestic violence when the couple splits up and child custody becomes an issue.
Child’s Best Interests
The court will always side in favor of the child’s best interests, and obviously being sexually or physically abused is not in their best interest. Moreover, even if children are not abused themselves while living in a home where domestic violence occurs, they are still more likely to suffer from emotional, behavioral, developmental, social, and learning problems. Early childhood trauma, such as seeing their mother get slapped, pushed, or threatened, can follow a child into adulthood, causing depression, anxiety, alcoholism, and lower economic status.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is any “abuse or threats of abuse when the person being abused and the abuser are or have been in an intimate relationship,” according to California Courts. This includes living together, being married or domestic partners, dating, or having a child together. Abuse is defined as physical harm caused recklessly or intentionally; sexual assault; causing the victim to be reasonably afraid that they or another person are about to get seriously injured, or disturbing someone’s peace, stalking, harassing, destroying property, or threatening someone.
Weighing One Parent’s Abusive History Against the Other Parent’s Troubling Behavior
Domestic violence is a serious offense, and the courts take any history of domestic violence, either from this current relationship or from one in the past, into account when resolving a child custody dispute. However, unproven allegations of domestic violence may not sway a particular court’s opinion. Moreover, even if one parent has a history of violence towards a domestic partner, that alone may not be enough of a deciding factor for the court when the other parent is an alcoholic, has drug addiction problems, has physically or emotionally abused the child, or has a felony criminal record. While domestic violence would normally convince the court to give sole legal custody to the other parent, that may not always be the case.
Call a San Jose Child Custody Attorney
If you are going through a divorce or separation and the other parent has demanded custody or visitation rights, you need to talk to a skilled San Jose child custody attorney immediately so that you can begin building your case as soon as possible. Contact the San Jose law offices of Gemma V. Reyes today to schedule a free consultation.