Skip to Main Content

How is child custody affected by a history of domestic violence?

Sadly, millions of children each year witness domestic violence in their homes. In many cases, such violence is the cause of relationships ending in divorce or a split between unmarried couples. If you are going through a divorce or ending a domestic partnership and have children involved, child custody can be affected by domestic violence allegations. You should know what to expect once you go to a Michigan court.

Domestic violence harms the entire family, not just the victim

Under Michigan family law, the primary factor the court relies on to determine which parent gets custody is what’s in the best interest of the child. Obviously, this includes the child’s physical and emotional safety.

How does domestic violence affect child custody?

If there is evidence of domestic violence presented to the court, it can significantly affect child custody and visitation orders. Anything recent or even in the distant past is considered when the judge makes a decision. The result can be that the parent accused of committing domestic violence is denied custody if it’s believed that they can potentially put the child at risk.

What factors does the court consider when making a decision?

It’s important to know that family law dictates that the court doesn’t necessarily take one parent’s word over the other’s. Even if there are accusations of domestic violence, the judge will take certain factors into consideration when deciding on child custody. They include the following:

• The effect that the domestic violence had on the child and whether it was directed toward the child
• Whether the parent accused is still a danger to the other parent and the child
• How often the domestic violence occurred and its severity
• Whether there is a current case pending against the parent
• Physical evidence, which can include pictures, of the abuse
• Police reports about domestic violence incidents

If you’re involved in domestic violence allegations, you need to take action. Resolving the matter can benefit you and your children.