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Domestic violence may impact child custody and parenting plans

Divorce and separation are relatively common legal matters that Santa Rosa families engage in throughout the year. While a separation helps the partners to a married couple set up separate lives without terminating their legal union, a divorce severs the legal bind that marriage created between the partners. In either case, if the partners share children they will have to create a custody and parenting plan.

While many factors can influence how a court assigns child custody and visitation time with parents, one factor may create a bar to a parent's right to custodial responsibilities: domestic violence. If incidents or allegations of domestic violence exist in a child custody case then a court must consider it under special rules and evaluate it as a domestic violence custody case.

For example, a parent's conviction on domestic violence charges in the five years before the custodial matter arrives in court can bar the convicted parent from gaining legal or physical custody of their child or children and can make the matter a domestic violence case. A court can convert a case into a domestic violence matter if it suspects domestic violence has been committed against the suspected abuser's spouse or children. An abusive parent may receive visitation time with their kids but may have restrictions placed upon when and where that visitation occurs.

An abusive parent may be granted custodial rights if they are able to meet several rehabilitative criteria, including but not limited to completion of a year-long batterer intervention program, compliance with restraining orders and has not committed any subsequent abuse against their family members. Individuals who have questions about child custody in domestic violence cases are encouraged to discuss their concerns with family law attorneys that they trust.

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