Domestic Abuse & Child Custody: 3 Answers To Your Most Pressing Questions

Divorce and custody cases are hard enough, but add a history of domestic violence and the situation gets a lot more complicated. Below are answers to three common questions you might have for your family law attorney that pertain to domestic abuse and child custody.

1. If My Ex Abused Me, Does That Mean I Can Get Full Custody?

Unfortunately, allegations of abuse aren't enough to keep your ex from gaining custody. When you work with a family law attorney, they can help you to build your case.

It can be difficult to relive the abuse, whether physical, mental, or emotional, but it's important that you and your attorney work to collect enough evidence to prove to the judge that your ex abused you. Physical abuse can generally be proven with medical records and proof of 911 calls, and the judge may allow for witness testimony to the abuse as well. Non-physical abuse may be a bit more difficult to prove, but not impossible. Even with proof, you may find that the courts are willing to give your ex a chance at parenting, but they may require counseling or the completion of anger management courses.

2. Can I Disallow My Child from Visiting My Ex?

If you and your ex are bound to a custody order, there could be serious repercussions for violating that order, such as your ex getting full custody or you getting jail time. So, what can you do if you fear for your child's safety and wellbeing?

First, it's important to work with your family law attorney to collect enough evidence so that you can request supervised visitation or no visitation at all. Evidence includes medical records, testimony from people who witnessed the abuse, and recommendations from a mental health counselor. If you suspect abuse, report your suspicions to child protective services. If you believe your child is in imminent danger, consult with your lawyer about submitting an emergency order with the judge that would allow you to withhold visitation.

3. How Can I Limit the Contact Between My Ex and My Child?

The amount of flexibility you have when it comes to limiting contact between your child and your ex will depend on the current custody order you have.

For example, if you have joint custody with your ex, you cannot keep your child from visiting their other parent at the court-appointed times, and you likely cannot limit their contact with your ex when they're at your home (phone calls, video calls, etc.) If you feel that the other parent is causing physical or emotional harm to your child, you can discuss going to court to change the custody order with your attorney. If there's currently no court order between you and your ex, you can limit your child's contact with your ex as you see fit.

The above answers do not constitute legal advice. Each situation is different, so it's important to see your attorney with any questions or concerns. To learn more, consult with your family law attorney—like those at Law Offices of Gordon Liebmann and other firms.