Child custody proceedings are among the more emotionally taxing aspects of a separation or divorce. It can be made more difficult when parents have a contentious relationship. When there are domestic violence accusations involved in the proceedings, parents may be unsure how this may impact the court’s determination of child custody.

Domestic violence harms thousands of families each year, and it causes long-term physical, emotional, and psychological effects on any individuals who suffer from it. There is a significant effect on children who witness or experience domestic violence. If one parent shows sufficient evidence of their co-parent’s domestic violence and abuse, this will significantly impact the court’s decisions regarding child custody. It’s important for families entering into custody cases to understand how domestic violence alters these decisions.

Domestic Violence in the Midwest

Each state has its own unique definition of what constitutes domestic violence. Generally, domestic violence is the frequent and abusive behavior of an individual against one or multiple family members or household members. Several actions can be considered abuse and domestic violence, including:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional, verbal, and psychological abuse
  • Financial or economic abuse
  • Threatening and intimidating behavior
  • Deprivation of basic needs
  • Isolation
  • Coercion
  • Stalking and harassment

Some abusive actions can be harder to recognize than others. In several Midwest states, one abusive action may be sufficient for the behavior to be considered domestic violence. Violent acts between individuals are considered domestic violence if the individuals have one of the following relationships:

  • Current and former spouses
  • Current or former romantic or sexual partners
  • Any relatives by blood or marriage
  • Parties who have a child together
  • Parties who share a home or used to share a home

These laws vary depending on the state. In some states, abuse between roommates is not considered domestic violence unless the roommates have another, closer relationship.

How Does Domestic Violence Affect Child Custody?

For domestic violence to affect the court’s decision, a parent must prove that domestic violence occurred. Evidence may include protective orders that were filed, the psychological effects on a child, or any medical documentation of injuries. Once the court sees sufficient evidence of domestic violence, the following areas are likely to be affected:

  1. Legal Custody: The court will likely remove an abusive parent’s rights to make decisions on their child’s behalf, awarding sole legal custody to the other parent if they are fit.
  2. Physical Custody: Parents who are guilty of domestic violence will likely lose any rights to physical custody.
  3. Parenting Time: Parenting time, or visitation rights, are likely to be restricted and supervised. In extreme cases, a parent’s visitation rights will also be removed.

The court is more likely to award sole physical and legal custody to one parent if the child witnessed or was a victim of the abuse. The court may also involuntarily terminate the parent’s parental rights. The abusive parent may even face criminal charges.


Q: What Deems a Parent Unfit in Missouri?

A: In Missouri, and many other Midwest states, the phrase “unfit parent” is a legal term for a parent who:

  • Puts their child in danger
  • Fails to provide for the child’s necessary care and support
  • Causes their child emotional, physical, or psychological harm

A parent may be considered unfit based on proof of:

  • Child neglect
  • Child abuse
  • Domestic violence to or around a child
  • A continued substance abuse disorder that they refuse to treat

Q: How Is Child Custody Determined in Nebraska?

A: Like most states in the Midwest, Nebraska determines how child custody is assigned largely based on a child’s interests. The court operates under the assumption that both parents are fit to care for a child, unless shown otherwise, and will then review several factors to determine what custody arrangement is in the child’s interests. These factors may include:

  • The child’s basic and specialized needs
  • The availability of each parent
  • The relationship between the child and their parents

Q: What Are the Grounds for Sole Custody in Kansas?

A: For a parent to obtain sole physical and legal custody of a child in Kansas, they must prove to the court that it is in the child’s interests. Generally, family courts prefer that parents have joint legal custody, enabling both parents to have legal rights to make decisions for their child. A parent who wants sole legal custody must prove that their co-parent does not make decisions in the child’s interests. Sole physical custody frequently comes with significant visitation rights for the noncustodial parent. A parent who is considered unsafe or a danger to a child would have limited and supervised visitation or have their visitation and parental rights removed, depending on the situation.

Q: Is Oklahoma a 50-50 Custody State?

A: Oklahoma family courts assume that each parent has equal parental rights to physical and legal custody. An ideal custody arrangement is joint physical and legal custody, enabling both parents to have a say in important legal and life decisions for their child while maximizing the amount of time that a child spends with each parent.

However, even when joint physical and legal custody is granted, this does not mean that the split will be perfectly 50-50. Due to the schedules of parents and children, as well as the distance between homes, a perfectly equal split may not be realistic. It would also require significant cooperation and compromise from both parents.

Q: Can a Custodial Parent Deny Visitation in Illinois?

A: In Illinois, a custodial parent can only prevent a noncustodial parent from visitation in two situations:

  1. The court has given the parent legal permission to refuse visitation.
  2. The parent has sufficient proof and reason to believe that it will put the child in danger.

Outside of these scenarios, it is illegal for a parent to interfere with or prevent a court-ordered visitation arrangement.

Protect Your Family’s Interests

If you are facing a custody battle against an abusive former spouse or partner, it is essential that you obtain legal representation to support you. An experienced attorney can advocate for you and your child’s interests and rights. They can also investigate your accusations to get your family the protection you need. Contact Stange Law Firm for compassionate and experienced legal counsel. We can also help you file for protective orders before or during your custody case.