If you’re embroiled in a child custody battle, you are likely doing everything you can to put your best foot forward to secure custody of your children. So, if you suddenly find yourself involved in a domestic violence case, it’s natural to wonder if your child custody efforts could be compromised. If you are concerned that your domestic violence and child custody cases could impact each other, the best thing to do is reach out to a skilled child custody lawyer in Atlanta.
What Are Some Domestic Violence Issues That May Impact Your Custody Case?
“Domestic violence, also described by the terms family violence, intimate partner violence, and teen dating violence, is a widespread problem in Georgia and across the country. Common abusive tactics include physical violence, sexual violence, isolation, economic abuse, emotional abuse, intimidation, reproductive coercion, and stalking.” – Georgia Commission on Family Violence
No two episodes of domestic violence are exactly alike. Family violence can unfold in many different ways, though it most frequently occurs between two spouses or between two intimate partners. While many people associate the term, “domestic violence” with physical violence or abuse, the term also encompasses the following:
- Sexual abuse
- Intimidation and emotional abuse
- Coercion or threats
In some cases, domestic violence may involve more than one of these behaviors. While these actions can be physically and emotionally devastating to victims, they can also have a damaging effect on the well-being of children who witness domestic violence.
According to the Office on Women’s Health, children who are exposed to domestic violence are at greater risk for long-term mental and physical health problems. They are also more likely to engage in violence in their own relationships with others. Finally, children who witness violence at home are also more likely to be victims of physical abuse themselves.
How Do Courts View Allegations of Domestic Violence in Child Custody Cases?
“1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner (e.g., hit with a fist or something hard, beaten, slammed against something) at some point in their lifetime.” – National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey
Domestic violence is a widespread problem in Georgia. In some cases, the violent behavior is intentionally directed toward children in the family, while other cases may involve children who repeatedly witness violent behavior between their parents.
The Georgia courts take domestic violence cases very seriously – especially when child custody decisions are at stake. Ultimately, it’s up to the courts to decide whether to award joint custody to the parents or to grant sole custody to one of them. In some cases, the courts must decide whether to grant custody to the parent who is the alleged victim in the case, or to the parent who is the alleged abuser in the case.
What Factors Can Affect the Court’s Ultimate Decision in a Child Custody Case?
No two domestic violence cases in Georgia are exactly alike. Some involve abusive or violent behavior directed at the child while others involve violent acts committed exclusively between two parents. Here are some key variables that may affect the court’s ultimate decision in a child custody case:
- Violence toward the child: A parent who allegedly directs violence toward their children will face more rigorous scrutiny in court.
- Severity of the violence: Severe or graphic violence that leads to injury or destruction of property is often considered a red flag in court.
- Frequency of the violence: Parents who have a long documented history of violent behavior often face an uphill battle in custody cases.
- Hard evidence in the case: Courts often examine photographs and medical records to determine whether they support a parent’s claims.
- Past police reports: A large collection of police reports documenting allegations of violent behavior could jeopardize a parent’s chances.
What Should You Do If You or Your Child Is Threatened by Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence can be unpredictable and may surface when you least expect it. If your partner or another family member is behaving in an abusive or threatening way toward you or your children, it’s best to take action right away. Here are some steps to follow:
- Remove yourself and your children from the home
- Contact the police to ask for help
- Seek an emergency protective order if necessary
If you are not able to escape the location where the domestic violence is unfolding, do your best to find the safest possible spot in your house where you can separate yourself and your child from the violent person. Then call the police.
What Is the Best Thing to Help Your Chances in a Child Custody Case?
Being involved in a domestic violence case can have a devastating impact on your child custody case. A skilled child custody attorney will fight to protect your parental rights before, during, and after your domestic violence case. A family lawyer will also take the necessary steps to protect you and your children from future exposure to violence.
If you need help with your child custody or other family law case, reach out right away to schedule a consultation.