How Does Domestic Violence Impact Child Custody Arrangements?

Domestic violence includes physical violence, emotional abuse, sexual violence, stalking, and psychological aggression by an intimate partner. Domestic violence affects millions of people in the United States each year. Intimate partner violence can cause severe injuries and even result in death. Almost half of female homicide victims in the United States are killed by their current or former male intimate partner.

Instances of your spouse yelling, threatening your safety, or destroying property can be considered acts of domestic violence. Although state laws vary, acts of domestic violence that are crimes can include:

  • False imprisonment: This involves physical restraints or threats that restrict a person’s freedom of movement.
  • Terroristic threats: This includes using threatening conduct to the point where someone is in immense fear or are afraid for their life.
  • Harassment: Harassment includes acts that cause annoyance or alarm, such as communicating anonymously or at inconvenient hours and using offensive language.
  • Criminal mischief: Destroying property is considered criminal mischief.
  • Stalking: Stalking is when someone repeatedly invades a person’s physical proximity to see or follow that individual.

If you have children and are considering a divorce, there are several issues that can impact how a court will decide on child custody and visitation arrangements. It is important to know the potential legal impacts of your actions before making any final decisions.

Actions to Take Before Filing for Divorce

If you are frightened for your wellbeing and your children’s wellbeing and you choose to leave the marital household, you may risk negative legal consequences later.

It is important to seek a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) from a court if domestic violence is the reason for leaving. A judge will typically grant a TRO without requiring proof of domestic violence. Once in place, a TRO can be used to restrict contact with the abuser; this forces the abuser to leave the shared home, and prevents them from having contact with the children.

When deciding whether to issue a Final Restraining Order, a judge will review the evidence of domestic violence. Examples of evidence include:

  • Police reports documenting incidents of alleged abuse.
  • Physical evidence of abuse, such as photographs.
  • Pending criminal cases against the abuser.
  • Witness statements.

It is also advisable to seek legal counsel for help getting a court to award you temporary child custody, which can protect future child custody and visitation rights from being compromised.

Filing for a Divorce

In New Jersey, petitioners can choose to file a no-fault or fault-based complaint to initiate divorce proceedings. Family court judges decide divorce cases, which includes distribution of marital property, alimonychild support, and custody. Allegations of domestic violence will be considered when deciding child custody and visitation arrangements.

Additionally, any Final Restraining Order conditions will also impact whether child custody and visitation arrangements will be allowed and whether any visits will have to be supervised.

Post-Divorce Child Custody

After divorce, if domestic violence is still occurring with the former spouse, then courts can still take action. It is possible to seek a modification to any child custody and visitation arrangements that have been negotiated in the divorce settlement.

Marlton Child Custody Lawyers at Burnham Douglass Will Assist You with Child Custody Arrangements

If you need advice on child custody arrangements or need modifications to existing child custody agreements, contact us today. Our experienced Marlton child custody lawyers at Burnham Douglass will address your unique child custody circumstances, especially if domestic violence is a concern. For a free consultation complete an online form. Our offices are located in Marlton and Northfield, New Jersey, and we serve clients in South Jersey, including Camden County, Burlington County, and Atlantic County.

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