DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ISSUES IN A CHILD CUSTODY CONTEXT

SAN JOSE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAWYER

As another National Domestic Violence Awareness Month comes to a close, there are millions of people around the country who are suffering in silence. Domestic abuse is one of the most underreported crimes in the nation, due in part because there is no clear-cut definition of what it is. California’s laws governing domestic violence are very broad, something that victim advocates applaud and anyone who has been falsely accused laments.

Contrary to popular belief, “abuse” does not have to result in physical injury to be considered as contributing to an environment of violence in the home. Physical contact in an emotional or volatile setting – such as a shove in the midst of a heated argument – regardless of whether it causes injury, can be considered abusive. That same action, if occurring during a family football game, for example, would not be seen in the same negative light.

In California, as in many other states, domestic violence laws prohibit not only physical abuse like pushing, shoving, kicking or punching, but also more subtle actions like:

  • Persistent negative name-calling or shouting/yelling
  • Calling, e-mailing or texting in spite of being told to stop
  • Isolating the victim away from his or her family and friends
  • Preventing access to personal funds
  • Chronic episodes of prolonged, unreasonable anger
  • Controlling behaviors and wardrobe choices
  • Breaking cherished property
  • Threatening to hurt a child or other loved ones unless the victim complies

If you or a loved one is being abused, seek help. There are crisis resource centers, shelters, counselors and support groups that can keep you safe and give you peace of mind.

HOW DO FAMILY COURTS VIEW DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?

If domestic abuse is a factor in a child custody dispute, a family court judge must put the best interests of the child at the forefront. That is why California family law Section 3044 was created: if a party has been found to have committed domestic violence at any point in the past five years, there is a rebuttable presumption that you are unfit to have custody of your child.​

The presence of a restraining order granted to one party in a custody dispute could very well be the deciding factor, and if you are deemed to have committed violence under the statute, you have to convince the court that the presumption should not apply to you. A skilled family law attorney at your side is an invaluable ally in your fight to keep or gain custody of your child, so if you are involved in a child custody dispute and an allegation of domestic abuse has been made, consult one in your area to learn more about your legal rights and options.

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