Does Domestic Abuse Affect Child Custody?

Divorce Lawyer

Domestic abuse can come in many forms. It could be physical, emotional, economic, and even mental abuse. It doesn’t matter which form it takes, it always leaves the victim(s) scarred and can absolutely influence the court’s decision regarding child custody.

What is Domestic Violence?

In many instances, it is common for those who have been victims of domestic to not see that they have been abused. They might have a serial abusive relationship and not understand what abuse is, or they might think that abuse can only take the form of physical or sexual abuse. Sadly, victims in these cases don’t know or will not seek the help and support they need. Although the definition varies state by state, domestic violence is typically seen as:

  • Sexual assault
  • Intentionally trying to hurt or actually hurting someone physically
  • Creating an environment of fear or immediate danger for others
  • Threatening someone verbally, and
  • Stalking

It can seem unclear who domestic violence can be against, but it is usually against the following victims:

  • Current and even former spouses or partners
  • People who lived together in a roommate situation
  • Children
  • Those related to one another by marriage or blood
  • People who are dating or are engaged

Domestic Violence And Child Custody

If you have been a perpetrator in a case of domestic violence, you might be wondering how being convicted of domestic violence affects custody of your child[ren]. It is important to understand the two types of custody one can have over their children:

  1. Legal Custody. This type of custody is when a parent has the right to make major life decisions regarding the child’s life. This could be with school, medical treatment, or where they live.
  2. Physical Custody. Physical custody of a child is when the parent is in charge of who the child lives with and who will provide their basic needs (eating, drinking, bathing).

When a parent has been charged with domestic violence, this can negatively affect how a child is raised. When it comes to children, the court is responsible for determining what the best course of action is for putting the child in a healthy and safe place to live. The court takes allegations of domestic abuse seriously when determining custody, and the judge will look at evidence that substantiates these accusations. This evidence could be recorded from child protective services, law enforcement reports, court orders, and more.

If the court finds you guilty of domestic violence in any form, particularly against the child[ren] or the child’s parent, the judge will typically award sole custody to the other parent unless substantial evidence can be proven otherwise. You may benefit from the assistance of a reckless driving lawyer Fairfax, VA trusts.

How will this impact visitation rights?

Unless visitation of the abusive parent is not in the best interest of the child or puts the child in harm’s way, the judge will grant some type of reasonable visitation rights. If necessary, the judge will order a third-party to supervise at each visit to ensure the child is safe.



Thank you to our friends and contributors at Dave Albo – Attorney for their insight into domestic abuse and criminal defense.