Some families in Illinois who are figuring out custody will also need to address any instances of domestic violence. Domestic violence allegations can have a significant impact on how a court determines child custody and visitation, even if the allegations and evidence are from the distant past.
The best interests of the child
When courts look at custody and visitation, they focus on making decisions that reflect the best interests of the child. This means that whatever decision they make, based on the evidence present, must serve to protect the child and to promote a healthy emotional and physical environment. In many cases, this means court orders of shared custody between parents, but where there are allegations of domestic violence, the courts can explore many other options.
What courts consider when domestic violence is a factor
When deciding custody cases that involve violence, courts will look at how often and how severe the domestic violence incidents were and if the child was targeted or directly affected by the violence. They will also consider if the abusive parent continues to be a threat to the child or other parent. Additionally, they will review the evidence, including police reports and photographs. Finally, they will consider if the abusive parent is involved in a criminal investigation related to the abuse.
The impact of domestic violence on child custody
Allegations and evidence of domestic violence affect custody decisions. The impact can take several forms, including:
- Supervised visitation for the abusive parent
- Denial of visitation rights for the abusive parent
- Order of protection issued for the children and abused spouse
- Revising or revoking previous custody and visitation orders
- Parenting classes and counseling sessions ordered by the court
Domestic violence can complicate the process of child custody and visitation. In such cases, parents and children might benefit from the guidance a family law lawyer can provide during the process.