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How can a history of domestic violence affect child custody?

Even though there are many good resources out there that try to prevent it, domestic violence is still too common of a problem in California.

Once a parent in the Monterey area has the courage to get out of the cycle of domestic violence, one of her biggest concerns is probably going to be what will happen to her children.

Likewise, most parents will not want their children around people prone to domestic violence, even if the violence did not involve the parent or the children.

After all, having to share custody with an abuser means that a parent and his children have ongoing exposure to abusive behavior.

California law allows judges to consider recent domestic violence

The good news is that a parent concerned about domestic violence has some legal protection in California.

Specifically, a parent who has committed an act of domestic violence in the previous five years is presumed not to be the right choice for either physical or legal custody of the children, as such an arrangement would not be in the best interests of her children.

The perpetrator may be able to overcome the presumption by proving, for example, that he is rehabilitated, but this can be an uphill battle.

While a criminal conviction is proof of domestic violence, no criminal conviction or charge is necessary for a parent to get the benefit of this protection.

The concerned parent will need to present evidence to a judge that recent domestic violence occurred. The alleged domestic violence can involve a number of people, including the alleged perpetrator’s current spouse or significant other.

Parents are also allowed to bring up older allegations of domestic violence in a custody proceeding for a judge’s consideration, but these may not impact the court’s decision.

Supervised visitation may also be an option

California judges also have the ability to impose supervised visits on a parent when doing so is necessary to protect a child’s safety and well-being. However, a judge’s decision will depend on the facts and circumstances of each family.

Someone with questions about supervised visits may wish to speak to an experienced family law attorney about this option.