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How domestic violence affects child custody in New York

Most couples in New York get into fights during their relationship. For the most part, these fights are verbal and do not escalate beyond words. This is true for punishing children for wrongdoing as well. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and sometimes, the fight or punishment results in a physical altercation with one spouse hitting or committing another type of assault on the other one or on the child.

Domestic violence is all too common in New York, and many families experience it. Violence can lead to the end of the relationship. When these relationships end, whether it is through a divorce or if the couple was never married, there will need to be a child custody determination.

If there is a finding that domestic abuse occurred, the court must consider it when making custody and visitation determinations. The court must ensure that the child will be safe in that parent's care. If the domestic abuse indicates that the child would not be safe, the court can require that visitation be supervised or eliminate visitation entirely.

The victim of domestic abuse may also seek an order of protection, which would prohibit the abuser from having any contact with him or her. And, these orders can also restrict visitation with the child. The order of protection can be incorporated in a final custody or divorce order and continue even after the custody or divorce proceeding has concluded.

There are many people in New York who are victims of domestic violence. This is true whether the abuser was charged with a crime or not. In a custody proceeding, if a court finds that domestic abuse has occurred, the court must take that into consideration and must keep the child safe. This means that the abuser may not receive custody and have visitation restricted. These are very fact specific matters though, and it is important to understand how the facts of one's situation applies to the law to ensure a proper outcome.

Source: FindLaw.com, "New York Domestic Relations Law § 240. Custody and child support; orders for protection," accessed on Sept., 20, 2016

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