How Domestic Violence Affects Divorce and Child Custody


Leaving an abusive marriage can spell the difference between life and death. Intimate partner violence or IPV can happen at any age and with any gender, race, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, or physical abilities. The Utah Department of Health reveals that IPV affects both women and men. Still, in the US, half of the American women have experienced some form of aggression by their partner. Every day, an average of 3 women is murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. Furthermore, IPV is also linked to childhood trauma that results in negative health later in life. Once you’ve decided to come out of marriage, here are some things you should keep in mind:

Plan Ahead in Private

Most abused women do not leave the marriage because they are afraid. Leaving can enrage the abusive partner making it difficult to leave. It is best to plan your departure in secret including where you will go and get help. You may slowly move things at a friend or family’s house over a span of weeks making sure you have important documents with you. More important than things are the safety and welfare of yourself and your children. If your spouse is particularly watchful, you may just walk-out empty handed and get help at once.

Seek a Protection Order

You should get a restraining order to protect yourself and your children once you have decided to exit the marriage. The first 24 hours following the issuance of the restraining order are critical. Seek for the police to escort you to a local women’s shelter, a safe house, or a family member’s house.

Get Support

The women’s domestic violence support group should be able to help you through these tough times. You may also seek counseling services or turn to your church for support. Having a strong support system with your family and friends are important from the day you leave the marriage and onward as you raise your children and go through domestic violence, divorce, child custody, and child support cases.

How Leaving Your Children Can Affect Your Case

Your husband may have threatened you with what he would do if you take the children away. Do not be afraid to take your children with you and don’t leave them in that abusive environment. Divorce Lawyers Utah may advise you to have custody of your children. The judge presiding over your divorce proceedings may question your decision to leave your children in an unsafe, abusive environment if you leave them with your husband. This way, your spouse may not use your children to force you back into the abusive relationship or come to terms with his own terms in the divorce.

Get Competent Legal Support from an Experienced Utah Divorce Attorney

Your spouse may intimidate you to come to terms with an unfair divorce agreement. An aggressive Family Law Attorney Utah is experienced in handling cases like yours. You don’t have to be intimidated during the divorce proceedings with a qualified lawyer.

In most divorce cases, mediation is in order to finalize a divorce. However, in the cases of domestic violence, mediation may be inappropriate. The court may waive this requirement in such case. If you have proof that you have been stalked, raped, or attacked by your husband, you need to document it as evidence. A Utah Divorce Attorney can help you file criminal charges for domestic violence and help you navigate divorce and custody cases.

How Abusive Conditions Alter Child Custody

While Utah courts, in general, prefer joint or shared custody, a history of domestic violence can prompt the judge to deviate from such an arrangement and limit the abusive parent’s visitation rights with the child. Evidence of domestic violence can affect child custody especially if there is proof of a chronic history of abuse. On the contrary, just one incident of domestic violence that was not reported may not mean that the parent will lose his visitation rights. Still, a failure to protect the children from domestic violence can result in complete termination of parental rights or restrictions in custody and visitation.

Supervised Visitation

In the case of chronic or recent domestic violence, supervision of another adult is necessary. Supervised visitation may be lifted but the abusive parent should be able to prove to the court that there is no likelihood of ongoing abuse and that the child would be safe in his care.

Termination of Parental Rights

Take note that a judge’s decision to terminate the custodial rights of the abusive parent is permanent. It may not be reversed with subsequent good behavior. Termination of parental rights may only be approved in the most extreme cases. These include sexual abuse of a child, attempted murder of a child, disabling injury to the child, or the intentional or reckless act that lead to the death of the other parent. If the cause of death was DUI, seek the counsel of a Utah DUI Attorney.

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