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Allegations of domestic violence are of great concern to the court, especially if a child is involved or has witnessed it. The chances of a child getting abused, both mentally and physically in such cases, are also high, so the court pays special attention to such matters. When it comes to serious cases or allegations of domestic violence, courts tend to have a narrow mindset towards granting child custody. Seeking legal help and advice should be the first step in any such scenario. A Phoenix criminal defense lawyer could help you greatly in this type of scenario. Here are four critical things for you to remember about domestic violence and child custody cases. 

History of Accusations or Recent Evidence

A parent’s history of accusations or recent evidence of domestic violence is fervently considered before deciding the child's custody. If the court considers a parent to be a threat to the child in any way, it may deny him or her custody. The court may also take into consideration the history or evidence of abuse hurled at the following people:
  • Any child related to the abusive parent by marriage or blood, irrespective of the duration
  • Any child under the temporary or long-term care of the abusive parent
  • An abusive parent, fiancĂ©e or fiancĂ©, current spouse, current boyfriend or girlfriend, or roommate of the parent pursuing custody.

Documented/ Reported Domestic Abuse

A judge may consider the documents and reports that back or substantiate the allegations of domestic abuse. These pieces of evidence include reports from NGOs or public agencies, case(s) filed with the police, child protective services records, medical reports, reports of social welfare agencies, or any other court order.

Factors Assessed in Court

Courts do not take a parent’s emotions or words under consideration when handing over custody, especially if it involves domestic abuse accusations. Judges consider the following aspects:
  • Photographic or physical evidence of abuse
  • Instances in which the child got affected or harmed by the domestic violence
  • Whether the accused parent poses a threat to the child
  • Any pending criminal case(s) against the suspect
  • The frequency and severity of abuse and domestic violence (this could be a strong indicator of how the parent may treat the child.)

Impact on Visitation

The impact of domestic abuse is long-term; not only may it deter the custody case, but it can also impact visitation. Courts may:
  • Order controlled visitation (the child will be accompanied by the parent or a close relative)
  • Issue an order of protection or a restraining order
  • Order anger management or parenting classes
  • Temporarily or permanently revoke the suspected parent's visitation rights
  • Order the alleged parent to take domestic violence counseling sessions

Revise the prevailing visitation order of the accused parent

Child custody issues because of domestic abuse are a very sensitive matter. During the custody case, if the court senses any threat to the child’s safety, the judge may take any action deemed appropriate to protect the child. An investigation may then be carried out, and in extreme situations, a parent’s rights may get terminated. Therefore, seeking legal advice before filing a case is always beneficial.