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Domestic Violence and Child Custody

By Jamie Berger, Esq.

Domestic violence and child custody are two subjects which would never intersect in a perfect world. Of course, we do not live in such a world, and there are families who have a history of domestic abuse in one way or another. Parents who have been the victims of domestic violence want to keep their children safe. Parents who have been found guilty of abuse in the past want a second chance. To complicate matters further, there are instances where false accusations of domestic violence may exist as well. All of this and more may be considered during child custody proceedings.

Domestic Violence Impact on Child Custody Hearings in New Jersey

When considering how an incidence of domestic violence will impact your child custody hearings, our child custody lawyers like to remind clients how the courts view hearings involving children. It is the stated position of New Jersey family courts that they will consider the best interests of the child(ren) first and foremost. Therefore, any potential dangers to children are taken extremely seriously. While previous incidents of domestic violence will certainly be considered, no two cases are the same. Judges may consider the following:

  • Whether the victims of the previous incidents were the children, the parents, or others
  • The nature of the domestic violence – i.e. assault, sexual assault, harassment
  • The number of occurrences of violent behavior
  • How long ago the acts of domestic violence took place
  • If the abusive parent is still seen as a danger to children or other family members
  • The criminal record of the offending parent

Depending on your specific situation, a history of domestic violence may have a massive impact on child custody proceedings or little to no impact at all. No matter which side of the equation you are on, our child custody attorneys will protect your legal rights the it comes to the custody of your children.

What Constitutes Domestic Violence in Morris County NJ?

The New Jersey state laws governing domestic violence are at the same time very clear in what may be considered domestic violence, while also leaving ample room for interpretation. As you will read below, some forms of domestic violence such as “harassment” can have wide ranging definitions in and of themselves. In order for a crime to be considered domestic abuse, the offender can be a spouse, parent, former spouse, individual in a romantic relationship, or anyone else who was a household member at the time.

As per New Jersey Revised Statutes Section 2C:25-19 – Definitions, domestic violence may include homicide, assault, terroristic threats, kidnapping, criminal restraint, false imprisonment, sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, lewdness, criminal mischief, burglary, criminal trespass, harassment, stalking, criminal coercion, robbery, contempt of a court order related to domestic violence, or any other criminal activity covered by the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act.

NJ Child Custody Considerations

It isn’t hard to see why previous incidents of domestic violence would be taken into account when considering the custody of a child. So what then are the consequences when a parent has falsely accused another of domestic violence? In many ways, these false accusations of domestic violence are viewed in as serious a light as acts of domestic violence themselves.

New Jersey courts are designed to look after the best interest of children by placing them in the care of loving and fit adults. When an individual intentionally and knowingly casts false accusations with the end game of manipulating their legal standing, judges may view that as a serious indicator that the accusing parent is not of sound mind and/or judgement. False accusations of domestic violence made by one parent against another can result in the courts viewing the accusing parent as committing acts of parental alienation, something which can very negatively impact that same parent’s rights to child custody and parenting time in any child custody matter.

Contact our Morristown Domestic Violence and Child Custody Lawyers Today

At The Law Offices of Jacobs Berger, LLC, our experienced domestic violence and child custody lawyers take pride in offering dynamic and individualized legal services to our clients in New Jersey. We understand that issues involving children and potentially dangerous situations can be extremely stressful for parents. We see each case we take as a new opportunity to help lay a solid foundation for our clients’ and their families’ futures. Even as tempers and emotions run high, our family law firm is dedicated to maintaining a level of professionalism and compassion.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Contact Our Morristown Attorneys Today

At Jacobs Berger, our attorneys are experienced in protecting our clients across Madison, Randolph, Tewksbury, Morristown, and the greater Morris County area in all family law-related issues.

To schedule a strategic planning session with one of our experienced team members regarding your particular case, please contact us online or through our Morristown, NJ office at (973) 354-4506.