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Determining a domestic abuser's custody rights

Domestic violence continues to be an issue that plagues certain marriages in Los Angeles. Whether such abuse represents a single incident or a continued pattern of behavior, the results can be just as damaging. Indeed, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that the number of intimate partner attacks that occur in the U.S. averages out to about 20 per minute. When such incidents result in divorce, the perpetrators' actions are taken into account when determining factors such as child custody. Yet does a history of domestic violence automatically prevent one from having any future association with his or her kids? 

First, it should be understood what the court considers as evidence of a history of domestic violence. According to the California Family Code, such a history is only established if one involved in a custody case has been convicted of domestic abuse within the previous five years. Thus, unsubstantiated claims of domestic violence may not be enough to legally define one as a perpetrator. 

The court automatically assumes that it is not in the best interest of a child to award custody to a parent with a documented history of domestic abuse. If one wishes to challenge that assumption, he or she must ask the court to consider the following factors: 

  • That it may indeed be in the best interest of the child for him or her to have custody
  • Whether he or she has completed a batterer's treatment program, drug or alcohol abuse counseling and/or parenting classes
  • Whether he or she has complied with the conditions of his or her parole or any protective order the other parent may have against him or her

The court also looks to see if one has been involved in subsequent acts of domestic violence

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