In deciding on a child custody arrangement, the court always considers first and foremost what is in the best interest of the child. The court wants to do everything possible to ensure that children of divorce live in safe and loving environments. Therefore, if either parent has a history of domestic abuse, the court takes this seriously.
What does the court consider?
In determining what kind of custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child, the court will consider all incidents of violence that a parent perpetrated against a child, spouse, partner, roommate or parent. Not all types of abuse are an automatic disqualification from custody. However, if a parent committed any act of abuse within the last five years against the child in question, the child's siblings or the other parent, the court will automatically apply a "rebuttable presumption," which denies the abusive parent any form of custody unless this parent can convince the court that they deserve it. To make this case, the parent should demonstrate that:
· Having custody is in their child's best interest.
· They have completed any court-ordered programs to overcome the abusive behavior-e.g., drug abuse counseling or parenting classes.
· They have obeyed all terms of parole, probation or protective/restraining orders, if applicable.
· They have not committed any subsequent acts of domestic violence.
In order to overcome a rebuttable presumption, the parent in question must present a preponderance of the evidence to support their argument. Enlisting the help of an experienced child custody attorney can be key in making this case.