Can You Get Visitation Rights With a Child After You've Assaulted a Child?

By Wayne Thomas

When parents divorce, it is the obligation of the court to ensure the safety and well-being of any minor children. The assault of a child by a parent creates a strong lack of certainty that the parent is able to sufficiently care for the child. Although domestic violence is typically not a complete bar to parenting time, any custody or visitation order will take the assault into account and take steps to prevent the behavior from recurring.

When parents divorce, it is the obligation of the court to ensure the safety and well-being of any minor children. The assault of a child by a parent creates a strong lack of certainty that the parent is able to sufficiently care for the child. Although domestic violence is typically not a complete bar to parenting time, any custody or visitation order will take the assault into account and take steps to prevent the behavior from recurring.

Visitation

When the parents of minor children divorce, a court must decide how to divide parenting responsibilities. Sometimes, the parents enter into an agreement about sharing parenting time and the court may or may not approve the terms. The time each child spends with a parent is known as "physical custody." By contrast, "legal custody" refers to the authority a parent has to make major decisions for the child, such as where the child attends school or religious services. Physical custody is rarely split 50-50, but the term "shared custody" typically means that both parents have some overnights with the child, whereas "visitation" often means that one parent has sole physical custody, but the other parent has some contact with his child. Different terms are used differently in various jurisdictions, however.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Factors

Judges are charged with crafting a custody arrangement that furthers the best interests of the child, typically based on their own discretion as well as on several factors outlined in state law. The law generally considers regular and continuing contact with both parents important for a child, but the child's physical and emotional well-being takes precedence. In cases where a parent has assaulted a child, the well-being of that child is certainly called into question, and most states have a broad definition of assault, which includes not only physical abuse, but also placing the child in fear that physical abuse could occur. Some states, like Tennessee, create what is called "presumption" against awarding custody to a parent who has been convicted of a crime against the child. This makes the abuse a much stronger factor weighing against custody, and can only be overcome by very strong evidence that a shared or sole custody arrangement involving the abusive parent is in the child's best interests.

Safeguards

In cases of domestic abuse, a court may still be persuaded that a parent should have access to his child, provided appropriate safeguards can be put in place. One option is to order supervised visitation. Supervised visitation might require that a parent see his child in a certain safe location, such as a supervised visitation center, or require that a trusted third party accompany the parent during the visits. A judge will look at what resources are available and the specific circumstances of each case in determining if supervised visitation is an effective option.

Modification of Visitation

Although the assault of a child is a very serious offense, judges generally have the freedom to revisit custody determinations as time goes on. If a parent is able to demonstrate that he is no longer a threat to the child, the court may be persuaded to grant more parenting time on an incremental basis if it serves the child's best interests. In many states, a child's preferences also come into play if he is old enough. For example, a court might order supervised visitation for several months, followed by normal visitation after a period, provided there have been no problems and the parent has followed any requirements of the court, such as completing an anger management course. Following a trouble-free period under this type of arrangement, the court might even consider a shared custody arrangement in the future.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Multiple Incarceration Factors in Child Custody

References

Related articles

How Does Spouse Abuse Affect Child Custody?

Courts and parents alike want to keep children safe from harm. In determining the custody arrangement following a divorce, courts are primarily concerned with what is in the best interest of the child. As a result, a history of abuse by a parent, particularly if the history is documented, may be highly influential in the outcome of a custody case.

Divorce & Fathers in Utah

Divorce is consistently ranked among the top sources of stress and depression. Fighting over custody and child support can be difficult for both parents and their children. Historically, divorce has meant that fathers' time with their children was dramatically reduced, but in recent years, states have taken steps to ensure that fathers have access to their children. In all states, child custody decisions are made according to the child's best interests. In Utah, child support is determined according to a child support calculator that takes into account the child's needs and parent's expenses.

Kentucky State Child Custody Guidelines

For divorcing couples with minor children, determining custody can be a major source of conflict. In Kentucky, state law places the interests of the child above the wishes of the parents, and a court must consider several factors in crafting all custody orders. Once in place, a parent can petition the court for a modification of the custody order in limited circumstances.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Child Custody & Loss of Parental Rights From Drug Abuse

When a parent struggles with drug addiction, his parental rights may be affected. In some cases, child protection ...

Parental Visitation Rights in New Jersey

Public policy in New Jersey holds that both parents should be regularly involved in their child's life. When one parent ...

Continuous Addiction & Child Custody

Habitual dependence on drugs or alcohol can call into question a person's ability to make good decisions, as well as ...

Can an Open Drug Case Affect Child Custody in GA?

A parent's illegal drug use can factor into custody and visitation determinations in Georgia. The degree to which a ...

Browse by category