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Domestic violence as a factor in custody orders

As parents in Indiana work on resolving child custody issues, one factor that might severely affect the outcome of the situation is domestic violence. Whether the violence is ongoing, recent or from a long time ago, courts will consider the implications of the violence and how it affects the children before deciding on custody. Domestic violence can be a factor as courts consider awarding a child custody order and can also cause a modification in an existing one.

What courts look for

To protect the best interests of the child during child custody disputes that involve domestic violence, courts will examine accusations and allegations of domestic violence in the life of the child. Some of the issues they look at include:

  • All evidence of domestic violence, including police reports, medical reports and photographs
  • How severe and frequent the instances of domestic violence were
  • The risk of domestic violence repeating in the future
  • The exposure of the child to the domestic violence
  • If the child was the intended victim

Possible effects of domestic violence on custody cases

If the court decides that a child is at risk of becoming a victim of domestic violence from a parent, the court might decide to deny that parent custody. They can even issue an order of protection for the child and the other parent if necessary. Domestic violence can also affect the outcome of visitation cases, including:

  • Modifying an existing visitation order with additional restraints
  • Allowing only supervised visitation
  • Temporarily or permanently denying visitation to the abusive parent
  • Ordering the abusive parent to take anger management classes or to enter domestic abuse counseling

While in most cases courts will always try to find ways to have the child continue their relationship with both parents, when there is an issue of domestic violence, the child’s safety comes first. In those cases, the court might decide to award sole legal and physical custody to the other parent.