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Child custody and domestic violence: Tips for parents

When a relationship is defined by abuse, it can be very hard for the abused party to break free. A large part of domestic violence involves making the victim feel utterly powerless. When the victim is also a parent, things become even more complicated, as the parent is torn between wanting to protect their kids and fearing the ramifications that will come with leaving the relationship. Victims in Colorado who are facing a child custody battle against an abusive former partner have a difficult road ahead.

Courts are tasked with making decisions that are in the best interests of the child, and a great deal of social research supports the belief that having access to both parents is the best thing for a child of divorce. In addition, parents have rights in relation to their children, and the courts also have to take those rights into consideration. In the end, many family law judges make child custody rulings that make little sense in the real world, and can be difficult for the victimized parent to live with.

A partner who is abusive is very likely to continue that behavior pattern for as long as he or she is able to interact with the victim. When a child is shared between the two parties, there are plenty of opportunities for the abuser to continue to harass the other parent, either directly or indirectly. Often, these individuals will use the child as a means of causing disruption to the other parent, by making offensive statements or claims about the other parent or placing blame on he or she for ending the marriage.

Colorado parents who are facing a child custody battle with an abusive former partner are in for a challenge. In preparing for court, it is critical to gather as much proof as possible to demonstrate the behaviors of the other parent, and to support claims of domestic violence. It may be helpful to establish a safe or monitored custody exchange location, or to ask for supervised visitation if the case warrants that level of oversight. Family courts are part of an imperfect system, and victimized parents must be willing to advocate for the needs of their children.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Can Family Courts Protect Children Exposed to Domestic Violence?", David Adams, Feb. 11, 2016

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