When parents are going through the divorce process, one of the issues the court has to address is child custody. In making a ruling, the court does take into account a number of factors. And at the center of these is what is in the best interest of the child. When a parent is accused of domestic violence, it can negatively affect a child custody case.
Domestic violence has a very broad definition according to Pennsylvania law. Actual physical violence is just one form of domestic violence. Other forms of abuse that may be classified as domestic violence include:
- Financial control
- Verbal threats and insults
Thus, even what seems like a mere threat of violence could amount to domestic violence. And when you are a victim of domestic violence, you could use this evidence in court when filing for a restraining order.
Domestic violence and the child’s best interests
The court always encourages divorcing parents to work together in the best interest of their children. However, a parent who fears for their life or is concerned about their safety may have a difficult time working with their ex. Cooperation can be almost impossible if one parent feels threatened.
The same extends to the children, as well. The court will not want to let them witness or be victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence is usually indicative of a bigger problem that could expose the children to the risk of abuse, which is something the court endeavors to prevent.
Domestic violence and parental fitness
Parental fitness and the ability to create a healthy environment for the children is another important factor during a custody hearing. The court will have a difficult time believing that a parent whose temperament is strained is fit enough to be granted unsupervised custody. As a result, the court may direct you to take anger management and parenting classes before you can be granted some form of visitation.
Naturally, you want to have the best possible defense if you’re accused of domestic violence. You also need someone in your corner who understands the consequences of the allegations against you for your child custody case. That way, you have the support you need to get over this hurdle.