Domestic violence can impact child custody cases

Surviving episodes of violence at the hands of a partner can be traumatic. However, for many Colorado women, simply living through domestic violence is just the beginning. It is not unusual for an abusive partner to use shared children to continue to terrorize his or her partner, both during and after the relationship. Child custody battles are an example, and many women are shocked to learn just how little a history of abuse will factor into a custody ruling.

In many cases, family court judges will give very little weight to a history of abuse. This partly due to the fact that many allegations of abuse are eventually proven to be unfounded. Another issue is connected to the very strong legal underpinnings that form the base of parental rights. These rights have been carefully constructed to ensure that a parent has the ability to play an active and involved role in the lives of his or her children. Courts are reluctant to limit those rights unless there is clear evidence that the parent would act or has acted to harm the child.

Even when there is a clear history of domestic violence, the court may not automatically give custody to the parent who is the victim. In fact, if the abused parent is unable to provide for the needs of a child or children, then the court could place the kids in the care of the abuser. While this outcome might seem outrageous, it is important to remember that the court is tasked with approaching each custody case from the perspective of the best interests of the child.

For those in Colorado who are preparing to fight for custody in the aftermath of domestic violence, the need for preparation cannot be overstated. Gaining child custody rights is never a given, and parents must be ready to present a compelling argument for why they, and not their former partner, should be granted the bulk of parenting rights. Doing so is important for both the abused parent and to provide stability for the children caught in the middle of this type of custody struggle.

Source:, “Domestic Violence & Child Custody Myths: These Beliefs Will Hurt Families More Than Help Them“, Amanda Moore, Sept. 20, 2016

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