The family court’s priority when determining child custody and parental rights is always the best interest of the child. This is the standard that governs the court’s decisions when it comes to child custody matters. In line with this, it’s usually better that both parents get equal rights and responsibilities concerning their child even after divorce, making joint or shared custody very common options.
However, there are unique situations that call for sole custody, i.e. when physical and legal custodial rights are vested on only one parent. One of the situations that demand sole custody are cases of domestic violence.
If one parent faces allegations of domestic violence, they might be worried that these can hurt their chances of getting custody. However, one important thing to remember is that allegations are different from actual findings.
Allegations of Domestic Violence vs. a Finding of Domestic Violence
An allegation is defined as a “claim that someone has done something illegal or wrong, typically made without proof.” Allegations are not enough to make a permanent impact on a child custody case, however, they can make temporary impacts.
An arrest, for example, can be done based on allegations, and so can temporary orders such as temporary parenting time with an allegation of domestic violence or a motion to restrict parenting time with an allegation of domestic violence.
An actual finding, on the other hand, means that there is irrefutable proof or proof beyond reasonable doubt that something wrong or illegal has been committed. An actual finding of domestic violence makes both a temporary and permanent impact on a child custody case, hurting a person’s chances of getting custody.
What to Do About Allegations of Domestic Violence in a Child Custody Case
The most important thing is to know that there is a big distinction between allegations of domestic violence and an actual finding of it. If a person gets arrested for allegations of domestic violence, knowing this distinction can help them protect their rights.
If the allegations are baseless, there is no value in settling or taking a plea in the criminal case. Otherwise, the other party can use it against them in the custody matter. But if a person alleged of domestic violence understands their rights, the rules of evidence, and that the allegations are baseless, they can’t hurt their chances of getting custody permanently.