Domestic Violence and Divorce: How Does Domestic Violence Affect Child Custody?

Domestic Violence and Divorce - Rochester Hills AttorneyWhen a court determines what a custody arrangement is going to look like in the wake of a divorce, neither parent necessarily has a better claim than the other. Instead, the court considers what arrangement will be best for the children. In the vast majority of situations, the court will assume that what is best for the children is for both parents take an active and engaged role in their children’s lives. What that looks like in particular depends on a variety of factors. However, a court won’t rule to exclude a parent from a child’s life without good reason.

Domestic violence is one of the reasons that a court would deem it necessary to separate a parent from their child. In this article, we’ll talk about how the Michigan courts make decisions when it comes to domestic violence and divorce. To learn more about how domestic violence affects child custody decisions, contact family law attorney at Sumner & Associates, P.C. today.

What Are Best Interest Factors Under Michigan Law?

The court will have to take a number of factors into consideration when determining the best interests of the child. “Best interest factors” include:

  • Emotional ties that each parent has with the child;
  • Ability of each parent to further the child’s education;
  • Ability of each parent to provide for the economic needs of the child;
  • Child’s current environment and whether or not it is stable;
  • Permanence of the child’s current living situation;
  • Moral fitness of the parents;
  • Physical and mental health of the parents;
  • Any other factor that is pertinent to the child’s welfare.

In terms of domestic violence, if one parent physically, sexually, verbally, or emotionally abused the other parent on an ongoing basis, the court would consider this a lack of moral fitness.

What the Courts Consider When It Comes to Domestic Violence and Divorce

It’s important to understand that domestic violence doesn’t just include physical violence. It can include emotional and verbal abuse as well. Often, it is those close to the family who notice subtle social cues in the dynamic of the relationship that become pivotal witnesses in custody battles. It is important to understand, that the court will heavily weight allegations of domestic violence in a custody hearing.

Physical domestic violence is considered a crime under Michigan law. However, domestic violence often goes unpunished and leaves no physical scars. Nonetheless, it can be considered when dissolving a marriage.

Domestic Violence and Divorce: Child Custody Battles

While domestic violence is a serious consideration for the courts, it’s one factor among many. The courts are still inclined to believe that the children are better off with both parents in their lives as opposed to only one. For this reason, they may grant a parent who has been charged with domestic violence visitation rights. In the event that the abused parent is not capable of managing the children’s financial, educational, and emotional needs, the court could grant the abusive parent primary custody.

If you’re the victim of domestic violence, it’s important to talk to your attorney about your options. It’s also important to be honest about what you hope to achieve post-divorce. What if you believe the abuse has a negative psychological or emotional impact on the children? Then you may want to make the argument that the abusive parent’s time with the child should be supervised.

In cases where the abuser spouse is only abusive toward you and not the children, you can file a restraining order against the spouse while still maintaining a joint custody arrangement. This can include dropping the children off at a neutral third party’s house or even a police precinct.

Talk to a Michigan Divorce Attorney Today

If you’re concerned that your former spouse is not to be trusted around your children, contact the divorce attorneys at Sumner & Associates, P.C. We can help you argue that position to the court. To learn more about domestic violence and divorce and how it affects child custody, call us today.

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