How domestic violence convictions can affect child custody/visitation

It may surprise many to learn that someone is a victim of domestic violence every 20 minutes in the United States. This means that almost 10 million people experienced violence in their homes in 2022.

Fortunately, not every case results in actual physical injuries, but the mental and emotional anguish may have a greater impact on these victims’ lives. This is especially true of children, so the courts take domestic violence convictions seriously when ruling on child custody cases.

Best interests of the child

Family court judges often focus on the best interests of the children in child custody cases. They search for physical and legal custody and visitation strategies that place the children in the best possible situation.

Family courts also seek to protect children from witnessing violence. They do not want these children to be afraid in their homes or with their parents. Judges will do everything they can to protect children.

Effect on custody and visitation

Most judges will investigate further. They will ask how often violence occurs, when it last happened and what happens during these times. They look for the frequency and nature of the violence. For example, a conviction may have occurred 10 years ago and no additional charges or claims have arisen since.

However, judges likely will not place children with parents who have domestic violence convictions. In addition, they likely will limit or eliminate visitation for the convicted parent. If this parent receives visitation rights, they may require supervision. In other cases, a judge may grant visitation but prevent overnight stays.

Parents convicted of domestic violence can take positive steps, such as entering treatment, to regain their parental rights and visitation if their lives change. It will take time to show true change and gain additional visitation or looser restrictions.