Domestic Violence and Child Custody
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), in Colorado nearly 37% of women in the state as well as over 30% of men experience some kind of domestic violence in their lives such as physical violence, sexual violence, or stalking. Criminal charges related to acts like this should never be taken lightly, though care should also be taken to ensure the justice system provides a fair process for both the victim and the accused. The ramifications of domestic violence conviction can be far reaching and destructive, especially when the victim and alleged perpetrator share custody of a child together.
To learn more about how domestic violence affects child custody and what you can do to protect your rights, reach out to an attorney. At Law Office of Lori Crystal, LLC, we’re proud to serve clients in and around the Castle Rock, Colorado area including Parker, Lone Tree, Highland Ranch, Larkspur, Castle Pines, Franktown, Elizabeth, Kiowa, and Centennial. Set up a consultation today.
Factors Considered in Determining Child Custody in Colorado
If you’ve been through a divorce or separation with a partner you share a child with, you know that you have to make many hard decisions together, one of which is determining child custody. Depending on the circumstances of your relationship and separation, this may look different for each family. In the case of two parents who are able to communicate with one another reasonably well and decide between themselves on a custody arrangement, a judge will likely approve their plan.
However, if the couple cannot come to a decision on their own, they will need to turn to the courts to intervene and establish a custody arrangement. When deciding who the child should live with (including joint custody arrangements), the single most important factor a judge will look at is the best interests of the child. When possible, a judge will make every effort to ensure that both parents continue to play a meaningful role in their child’s life. This usually means that some sort of joint custody is strongly preferred. That said, there are other factors that may be considered, which can include:
The wishes of each parent
The wishes of the child if deemed old and mature enough
The willingness of each partner to support a positive relationship between their child and the other parent
The educational, emotional, and medical needs of the child
The ability of each parent to meet the needs of their child financially and emotionally
How physically close each parent lives to one another and how easy or difficult this will make shared custody
How close the child will be to other family members and support networks when they are with their parent
Any history of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence in the family
How Does a Domestic Violence Charge Affect Custody?
Domestic violence charges in Colorado can certainly affect custody decisions. Because the overriding priority in any child custody case is to meet the “best interests” of the child, this will understandably be called into question if one parent has a history of domestic violence or family violence, or has recently been charged or convicted of a related crime. These acts could include:
Actual incidents of domestic assault against a family member
Threats or intimidation toward a family member
Verbal abuse or harassment of a family member
Controlling the family’s finances in an abusive or manipulative way
When this happens, the victim is able to request a protective order against the perpetrator, which means they won’t be allowed any contact with the victim or children in the household. If serious enough, this could ultimately mean that the partner convicted of domestic violence can lose their parenting privileges altogether. This makes it imperative that you contact a criminal defense attorney if you’ve found yourself in a situation like this and are afraid of losing your rights as a parent.
How Does a Domestic Violence Charge Affect Visitation?
It’s worth pointing out that just because you’ve been accused of domestic violence or have been convicted on a domestic violence charge does not mean you will automatically lose all your parenting privileges. In some cases, there are other solutions available that will still allow you some access to your children.
For example, if you currently have a court-ordered visitation schedule in place and are charged with domestic violence, this will need to be modified. There may, however, be options for you to still see your children in a supervised visit. When this happens, the court will require a third party (which could be another family member or a trained professional) to be present anytime you interact with your child.
Work With a Skilled Attorney
If you live in the Castle Rock area and want to know more about how a domestic violence charge could affect your child custody arrangement, reach out to our attorney at Law Office of Lori Crystal, LLC.