Custody & Visitation Law

Will My Domestic Violence Charges Affect My Child Custody?

Key Takeaways:

  • A court can issue a temporary restraining order to stop you from seeing your children after a domestic violence arrest.
  • The court may limit contact with your child after a DV arrest, including supervised visitation.
  • If you complete the terms of domestic violence probation, you may be able to regain your child custody and visitation time.

An arrest or conviction for domestic abuse can affect your child custody and visitation rights. Domestic violence involving the child’s other parent or in front of the child means you may lose custody of your child, at least temporarily.

The courts take domestic violence very seriously when it involves children. Couples with a child together may struggle to get along. When tempers get heated, you may do things you would never normally do. Fighting parents can say terrible things and even threaten violence. When things get physical, the police may step in.

If you worry about losing custody after an arrest, talk to an experienced family law attorney for legal advice.

What Is Considered Domestic Violence?

Domestic abuse is based on state laws. Different jurisdictions have different definitions of domestic violence. Generally, domestic violence is assault or battery against a family member, people who share a child, or current or former partners.

Most states have a mandatory arrest policy for domestic violence. If they show up to a call and suspect the other person is a victim of domestic violence, they will arrest you on domestic violence charges. Unfortunately, sometimes, police arrest the wrong person.

Can I See My Kids After a Domestic Violence Arrest?

Allegations of domestic abuse can be as bad as a conviction. People can assume the worst, even before you tell your side of the story. Even before a conviction, you may have problems visiting your children.

If one parent has a history of domestic violence or is accused of domestic violence, the court may limit the abusive parent’s custody rights. After an arrest, the court can issue an emergency protective order. This can mean you may not be able to go home for a short period until there is a restraining order hearing.

You will have a chance to respond in court for a temporary or permanent restraining order. Make sure you attend this hearing. Talk to a criminal defense attorney after you are arrested on allegations of domestic violence. An attorney can ensure you don’t lose custody for something you didn’t do.

Can I Lose Custody After a Domestic Violence Conviction?

The consequences of a criminal conviction are more serious. Family courts take the child’s best interests very seriously in determining child custody. If you have a conviction for domestic violence, the court may limit any direct contact.

Parents with a domestic battery conviction may only get supervised visitation. In a supervised visit, there is always someone else present when you spend time with a child.

Can a Restraining Order Include My Child?

A restraining order can include your child, even if there was never any physical child abuse. The court may presume that violence against one family member puts other family members at risk of harm.

A restraining order can limit where you can go, who you can see, and what you can do. Depending on the type of protective order, the court can:

  • Make you leave your shared home
  • Require payment for housing for your partner and child
  • Prohibit contact with the victim
  • Prohibit going within a certain distance of the victim or the victim’s family members
  • Prohibit going to the victim’s workplace
  • Prohibit contact with your child without supervision

Even if your ex says it’s okay to visit and ignore the restraining order, don’t do it. Violating the restraining order can result in additional criminal charges. Violating the no-contact order could make it even harder for you to see your child.

How Can I Get Back Custody After a Domestic Abuse Conviction?

For a first-time conviction for domestic abuse, the parent has to show the court that they will not put the child in harm’s way. You can help show rehabilitation through court-ordered:

  • Substance abuse counseling
  • Batterer intervention classes
  • Anger management
  • Parenting classes

These programs generally include education and counseling to help individuals understand what triggers abuse, how it affects children and victims, and ways to deal with anger and frustration to avoid repeated violence.

It can also help if the individual takes responsibility for their actions and expresses remorse. After completing domestic violence classes, you may be able to see some changes in the visitation schedule and custody plan. The court may begin with temporary visitation and extend to more regular custody arrangements.

Can a Child Custody Lawyer Help After a Domestic Violence Case?

You can temporarily lose physical custody of your child after allegations of domestic abuse. Make sure you take any allegations seriously and talk to a domestic violence defense lawyer. An experienced lawyer can help you avoid a criminal conviction for a misunderstanding that ended in arrest.

If you have a DV charge on your record, it could affect your parental rights. The court will consider how domestic violence affects child custody and may limit your parenting time. For more information about how a DV conviction affects your child custody case, talk to a local child custody lawyer about your legal options.

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