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Does Domestic Violence Affect Child Custody?

 Posted on October 15, 2021 in Family Law

Novi Child Custody AttorneyThe month of October has been designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). Domestic violence is defined as the “willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another.” More than 10 million adults experience domestic violence each year. On a typical day, local domestic violence hotlines receive approximately more than 19,000 calls. This comes out to 13 calls per minute. Here in Michigan, it is estimated more than 35 percent of women and 25 percent of men will experience some form of domestic violence in their lifetimes. When it comes to domestic violence, it is not only the adult who is the victim, but any children who live in the home are also victimized. 

Domestic Violence and Child Custody

The above statistics show just what a common issue domestic violence is for families across the country. Not only does the violence affect the victim, but it also has a harmful impact on children who witness the abuse. It is estimated that children witness 70 to 80 percent of all domestic violence assaults that occur.

Studies have shown that children who are exposed to domestic violence suffer great emotional harm. They often suffer excessive sadness or worry, and fear of abandonment or harm. Many children lose their ability to have empathy for others and/or they may feel socially isolated.

Studies have also shown that if a child is allowed to continue to be around a parent who has committed domestic violence, there is a higher risk that child will grow up and become an abuser. This is why it is critical to protect children from exposure to this type of behavior. When a parent commits domestic violence, the courts can step in to limit their parenting time.

When a Parent Commits Domestic Violence

In most custody situations, the family court evaluates a list of criteria to determine how much parenting time should be awarded to each parent. This decision is based on what is in the child’s best interest. However, the first reaction of a Michigan family court when there are charges of domestic violence against a parent is to usually determine the child should not have any contact with that parent. When a parent is violent and abusive, the court is committed to protecting the child’s emotional and physical wellbeing.

There are situations where the court may grant limited visitation to the parent. In these cases, the court may feel it is in the best interest of the child to have at least some contact with the parent but will usually order that these visits be done under strict supervision, such as in a social services facility. In most cases, a third party is involved in any visitation since the other parent has obtained an order of protection against the abusive parent. Any allowed parenting time is done under the stringent watch of the family court and failure of the abusive parent to abide by the court’s rules could result in losing all visitation rights.

Contact a Novi, MI Family Law Attorney

If you have been a victim of domestic violence, it is important to protect your children from the abuser. A compassionate Farmington Hills child custody attorney from Elkouri Heath, PLC can help. Call 248-344-9700 to schedule a free and confidential consultation to find out what legal options you have.





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