Domestic violence is a growing concern in the United States. In fact, studies show that more than 10 million people experience domestic violence every year nationwide. Courts are required to consider whether there is a pattern of domestic violence and make specific finds if they award custody to an abusive parent and find that said award isin the best interests of the child.

There are three ways domestic violence affects child custody applications:

  1. Affects the granting of custody. Courts take a family’s history of domestic violence into consideration when determining custody arrangements, and are less likely to grant joint or sole custody to the abusive partner. Other factors may still allow the court to grant custody to the abusive parent, however, if it is in the child’s best interests.
  2. Affects visitation rights. A history of domestic violence can also affect a parent’s visitation rights.. To determine what is in the child’s best interests, courts must consider certain factors, including the mental health of all individuals involved. Sometimes, courts may order supervised visitation to promote the safety of the child.
  3. Affects parental rights. Domestic violence may cause a judge to terminate the parental rights of the abusive parent, which means a parent loses all rights of legal and physical custody of the child. This decision is used only in the most severe cases of abuse, and it is impossible for the parent to regain parental rights once termination is ordered. Terminations of parental rights are frequently tied to a step-parent adoption.

Domestic violence issues are complicated and can have a significant impact on child custody arrangements. That is why it is important to seek representation to understand the facts of your case and seek an outcome that provides the greatest benefit for your child. At Coulter Lambson, our experienced St. Louis County family law lawyers can provide knowledgeable representation throughout the legal process.

Contact our firm today to learn more about our family law services.