How a Domestic Violence Charge Can Prevent You From Sharing Custody of Your Children
This is the next post in my series discussing behaviors in a person’s background that may or may not impact their San Diego child custody case. My last article discussed how holding a medical marijuana card can negatively impact child custody if the parent is not responsible. In this post, I will discuss how having a domestic violence conviction can harm your chances of sharing joint custody of your child.
Domestic violence against your child’s parent can make winning joint custody difficult
Having a history of domestic violence- particularly against the parent of your child- can make it extremely difficult to win joint custody. In California, joint custody is usually the presumed best solution by a Judge. However, when domestic violence against one parent is part of the equation, the presumption shifts, and the alleged abuser assumes the responsibility of arguing why they should be awarded joint custody despite their history. If one parent has multiple domestic violence arrests, has exposed a child to domestic violence, has injured a parent to the point of needing medical attention, or currently has an order of protection out against them, it can be very difficult to argue for joint custody. A Judge is highly unlikely to give any type of custody to a person who has a history of violence or has a track record of being unable to control their anger. In this situation, supervised visitation is often the best that can be hoped for, until the person can prove that their anger is under control.
If a parent has a history of domestic violence, or a very recent domestic violence arrest, the best thing that can be done is to immediately work to resolve the issue. Attend any recommended anger management classes, therapy, or substance abuse program that may be necessary. However, do not expect simply completing classes to win you custody. A Judge will require a parent to demonstrate that their temper is under control by going a significant period of time without incident. This may mean, communicating amicably with the parent of your child, avoiding leaving threatening phone calls or text messages, avoiding physical fights with others, taking other proactive steps to show that the person has changed.
Joint custody may not be affected if a person does not have a recent history of domestic violence
The one exception to the above rule is if a person has an old incident of domestic violence in their history, but continued to live with their partner afterwards without incident. The older and less serious a domestic violence is, the less weight a Judge will give to the problem. When a parent with a domestic violence background can argue that the incident in question happened a long time ago, that no problems have occurred since then between the two parents, a Judge is more likely to dismiss the domestic violence. Should the other parent attempt to bring the issue up in Court, a Judge would question why that parent believes the children are in danger when no such problem has existed for the majority of the marriage.
If you have a history of domestic violence, it is important to review your unique set of circumstances with a family law attorney prior to going to Court. Contact our San Diego family law office today.