Domestic Violence and Child Custody in California: What You Need to Know

Domestic violence is a pervasive issue affecting millions of families worldwide. In the United States, California is known to have some of the strictest laws regarding domestic violence, particularly in matters related to child custody.

Domestic violence can significantly impact child custody decisions, and it’s vital for parents involved in these cases to understand how the law works. This article will explore how domestic violence may affect child custody in California.

Defining Domestic Violence in California

Before we dive into how domestic violence can impact child custody cases in California, it is essential to understand what constitutes domestic violence under the state’s laws. California defines domestic violence as abuse or threats of abuse between people with close relationships.

The abuse can take many forms, including physical, sexual, emotional, financial, and psychological. Domestic violence can occur between spouses or domestic partners, parents and children, and other family members.

Domestic Violence and Child Custody in California

When it comes to child custody, California courts must consider the best interests of the child. The courts must protect the child’s health, safety, and welfare. Domestic violence can significantly impact a child’s well-being, which can be critical in determining child custody arrangements.

California courts recognize that domestic violence can have long-lasting effects on children. For example, witnessing violence in the home can lead to anxiety, depression, and other psychological issues. In addition, children who are exposed to domestic violence are also at higher risk of experiencing abuse themselves. 

As such, the courts take allegations of domestic violence very seriously and are willing to take strong action to protect children. They will not only take into consideration abuse to the child themselves but also any abuse against:

  • Another child in their care
  • The child’s other parent
  • The abuser’s current spouse, roommate, dating partner
  • Any other family member of the abuser

Impact of Domestic Violence on Child Custody Decisions

In California, there is a presumption that it is not in the best interests of the child to be placed in the custody of a parent with a history of domestic violence. This means that if one parent has been found to have committed domestic violence, the court will presume that it is not in the child’s best interests to be in that parent’s custody.

However, the accused can rebut this presumption by showing that placing the child in their custody is, in fact, in the child’s best interests. In addition, the parent must provide evidence that they have completed a batterer’s intervention program, counseling, or therapy and are not a danger to the child.

It is also worth noting that the court may order supervised visitation if a parent has a history of domestic violence. The parent can still see the child, but a court-appointed monitor must supervise the visits. The monitor’s role is to ensure the child’s safety and well-being during the visit.

In cases with allegations of domestic violence but no finding of fault, the court will consider various factors to determine child custody arrangements. These factors may include the relationship between the child and each parent, each parent’s ability to fulfill the child’s needs, and any other relevant factors.

Protective Orders and Child Custody

In many cases, a victim of domestic violence may obtain a protective order to protect themselves and their children from further harm. A protective order is a court order that requires the abuser to stay away from the victim and their children. In California, a protective order can also address child custody and visitation.

If a protective order is in place, the court may order that the abuser have no contact with the victim or the children or that the abuser’s contact with the children is supervised. The court may also order that the abuser stay away from the children’s school or other places where the children are likely to be found.

Azemika & Azemika, Family Law Attorneys in Bakersfield, California

If you are a victim of domestic violence or have been accused of committing domestic violence, it’s crucial to seek legal advice from an experienced family law attorney. It’s also essential as a parent to prioritize the well-being of your children above all else.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, take the necessary steps to obtain a protective order, and seek counseling or therapy for you and your children. There are resources available for victims of domestic violence, including shelters, counseling services, and legal assistance. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, seek help immediately.

At Azemika & Azemika, the needs of the children in a divorce or separation become our utmost priority. Our expert team of family law attorneys can help you understand the laws and procedures when navigating child custody issues in California.

Contact us today for a consultation.

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