The Affects of Domestic Violence on Divorce and Child Custody in Morris County
As much as we as a society have done to increase awareness and work to prevent domestic violence, the fact of the matter is that domestic violence still happens, and can play a large role in the lives of those affected, in a divorce, or even in an existing or pending child custody agreement.
Additionally, while many individuals think of physical violence against another when they think about domestic violence, mental abuse and even the destruction of property can also be considered acts of domestic violence.
With this in mind, our article today will focus on how incidents of domestic violence can impact a divorce, and how domestic violence can also impact child custody and visitation arrangements.
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First and foremost, if domestic violence is occurring in the family household during divorce proceedings, the most important thing the victim can do to protect him/herself from the immediate risk and harm they are facing is to leave the household as quickly as possible and potentially remove their children from the same situation if they are also at risk. However, doing so without taking the proper legal actions immediately afterwards can have extremely negative consequences – these legal actions include alerting the authorities to the situation which often includes contacting the police and/or filing a Temporary Restraining Order, as well as speaking to a Florham Park divorce attorney regarding filing for a temporary child custody action.
A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) can protect victims of domestic violence and even their loved ones until a Final Restraining Order hearing, by restricting contact with the abuser, forcing the abuser to leave a shared home, and even preventing the accused from having contact with the children, extended family or the employers of the victim. While securing a TRO, as well as these additional protections, requires little proof of domestic violence at the time it is requested, evidence of domestic violence will have to be presented at the Final Restraining Order hearing. It is highly recommended that any individual pursuing any kind of domestic violence restraining order consult with legal counsel in order to better understand their options and next steps, and ensure that they receive the full protection they or their family needs from acts of domestic violence.
Finally, if a domestic violence victim feels the need to leave a shared home during the divorce process, it is important that they speak with their divorce attorney regarding the issue of temporary child custody. Temporary child custody can help alert the courts to the fact that one parent or the other is leaving the home for whatever reason, and allow that person to protect their immediate, and future, custody interests. Without a temporary child custody agreement or order in place, individuals leaving the family home during divorce risk setting a poor precedent in terms of their role in their children’s lives, and their potential custody and visitation rights moving forward.
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Outside of the divorce process itself, domestic violence also has the potential to affect already-existing child custody and visitation agreements or orders. If a parent is committing acts of domestic violence against the other parent or even the children themselves, the other parent may wish to file for a child custody modification based on the risk the abusive parent represents to the children.
Even if the abusive parent is not a direct risk to the children, the fact that they are abusive to the other parent must be considered when making a custody determination, or when reviewing a prior custody agreement/order, and the result may be that the abusive parent’s custody and visitation rights become limited.
While custody and visitation is often only completely restricted in the most extreme cases of domestic violence, most child custody modifications based on domestic violence usually results in some kind of custody and visitation modification.
Of course, as with any child custody modification motion, it is important that both parents seek the counsel of an experienced child custody attorney in order to ensure their parental rights are accurately represented to the courts, and that the matter is resolved in the most fair and situation-specific manner possible.
Contact Our Morristown Divorce and Child Custody Lawyers Today
At Jacobs Berger, our attorneys have extensive experience helping clients and families to resolve family law disputes of all kinds in towns across New Jersey and Morris County, including Morristown, Madison, Randolph, East Hanover, Florham Park and the surrounding communities.
Whether you are dealing with a divorce, child custody or parenting time / visitation matter, domestic violence, or any other kind of post-divorce or family law matter, our legal team has the experience, knowledge, and most importantly the compassion that you need and deserve when resolving issues so important to your parental, legal and financial future.
To speak with a member of our family law team today in a strategic planning session regarding a Restraining Order, domestic violence, divorce, or any of its related issues including child custody, child support, alimony, or the division of assets, please contact us online, or through our Morristown office at 973-710-4366.