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How does a history of violence impact child custody proceedings? P.3

We’ve been looking in recent posts at how courts approach child custody determination in cases where there is a history of domestic violence or sexual abuse. As we noted, courts take domestic violence sexual into account when determining whether to appoint a party as a sole or joint managing conservator and are bound to certain limitations in appointing joint managing conservators and possessory conservators when there is evidence of abuse or violence.

Another point of law that family courts are bound by is the presumption that it is not in the best interest of a child for a parent to be awarded unsupervised visitation when there is a history or pattern of neglect of abuse, whether directed toward the child or the other parent, or a spouse. This presumption may be rebutted, however, by presenting evidence that visitation is in the best interest of the child. 

Parents who are accused of having engaged in abuse, neglect or violence in child custody proceedings, of course, have need of an experienced advocate to ensure the court has all the facts necessary to make the best possible decision in the case. This is particularly important when the party making the accusations is providing false or inaccurate statements to the court.

Courts, in considering whether there is credible evidence of neglect, violence or abuse does take into account whether a protective order was issued against the parent in the preceding two years, but this doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story. Having an experienced advocate is necessary to ensure that the accused parent is not unfairly disadvantage because the court doesn’t have access to all the facts. 

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