It’s an unfortunate reality that every year in the United States, thousands of people of all ages suffer the effects of domestic violence. Many victims of domestic violence are children, and parents may wonder how domestic violence influences custody over child victims. Whether you have been wrongfully accused of committing domestic violence or have discovered your child has been abused by a member of your family or household, call our firm. It is essential to understand what can be done to prevent further domestic violence and the consequences of these actions.

If you are preparing to divorce because of domestic violence initiated by your spouse, contact an attorney. It’s vital to know how to prevent further abuse and how their behavior will influence your child custody determination. It’s natural to want to prevent your children from any contact with a known abuser. However, many people may be unaware of the legal options available throughout the US that can help protect children from domestic violence.

What Are Protective Orders?

A protective order, also known as a restraining order, is a legal decree that bans an individual from contacting or coming into close proximity of another individual. Typically, when a person reports that they have suffered domestic violence, the police responding to the issue can call the local court to secure a protective order, preventing the offender from engaging in further violence against the victim. These emergency protective orders will typically evolve into more permanent protective orders once a judge reviews the case.

Securing a protective order should be your first priority after experiencing any form of domestic violence. You can ask the police for help or contact an experienced family law attorney to assist you in securing your protective order. Once you have this order, the offender listed in the order will be unable to come near you or contact you. If they violate the terms of this order, they could go to prison and face additional legal penalties.

How Does Domestic Violence Influence Child Custody?

If a parent engaged in domestic violence of any kind, they will likely lose any potential custody and visitation rights they may have had in divorce. It’s not uncommon for domestic violence to be the precursor to divorce in many parts of the country. It is also possible for domestic violence to occur after divorce, as most states in the country consider violence between former spouses or domestic partners to qualify as domestic violence.

If your domestic violence experience has influenced your decision to divorce, it is essential to work with an experienced divorce attorney. An experienced lawyer can not only help you secure any protective orders you and your family may require but also help you navigate the divorce process while ensuring that the domestic violence you experienced receives appropriate attention from the family court.

A person who engages in domestic violence that leads to divorce will likely face severely diminished standing in the eyes of the court. If they are expecting to obtain custody rights over their children, it is very likely that the judge handling the case will only allow them to have limited visitation rights. For example, if the offender committed domestic violence against their spouse but not their children, they would still likely face limited custody rights, such as strictly supervised visitation. In the event they committed domestic violence against their children, the judge may completely bar them from contact with their children, and the offender will likely face criminal prosecution as well.

Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

In extreme cases, a parent proven to have committed domestic violence against a child will likely have their parental rights stripped entirely. Involuntary termination of parental rights is an uncommon and severe response to domestic violence, typically reserved for individuals who have victimized children in specific ways, including:

  • Intentional cruelty inflicted on their children.
  • Chronic neglect of their children.
  • Sexual assault of any child.
  • Felony assault resulting in bodily harm to a child.
  • Murder or attempted murder of a child or the child’s other parent.


These are a few examples of behaviors that will likely lead to involuntary termination of the offending parent’s parental rights. The parent will also face criminal prosecution. It’s also important to note that the parent will likely lose their parental rights but still face liability for financial support of the child. Many parents who commit domestic violence and lose their parental rights will still have child support liability.

Involuntary termination of parental rights is typically reserved for the most severe forms of domestic violence. The judge must determine that any further contact between the offender and the child would be a danger to the child. Once parental rights have been involuntarily terminated, it is extremely difficult for the parent to regain their parental rights in any way.

How an Attorney Can Help

Whether you have experienced domestic violence yourself or the abuser has harmed your children, it is vital to take advantage of all the legal resources available to you that can protect your family in the future. Experiencing domestic violence of any kind can be incredibly traumatic, and it is natural to feel uncertain when it comes to securing legal protection for you and your family. If you want to navigate the family court system with confidence and secure the peace of mind that comes with having a court-issued protective order shielding you from your abuser, call our firm. An experienced family law attorney may be your best available resource.

If you have experienced domestic violence and this has compelled you to file for divorce from your abuser or if you or your child have experienced domestic violence after divorce, speak with a lawyer. An attorney can help you determine the best approach to this situation, secure the protective orders you need, and connect you with valuable support resources that can help your family recover.

It’s crucial to work quickly after experiencing domestic violence if you want to ensure your children are safe in the future. Reach out to an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible to determine the best way to handle your domestic violence experience.