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How Does a Domestic Violence Restraining Order Affect Child Custody?

Child custody matters can cause a lot of stress and strain close relationships between family members; however, custody issues that require a protective order can be even more overwhelming. When one parent is fighting for custody or visitation rights but has a domestic violence restraining order against them, the court is required to put in even more careful consideration before establishing child custody. Today, we review how a protective order can impact a child custody determination.

Establishing a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

A domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) or protective order is granted by a judge when someone has committed or threatened to commit an act of abuse or violence against another person they have a close relationship with, such as a spouse, domestic partner, roommate, close relative, ex-spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, or the other parent of their child. Any DVRO will affect a child custody case as the court takes domestic violence very seriously.

Protective Orders and Custody

Domestic violence negatively impacts a child’s wellbeing, sense of safety, mental health, and ability to function in everyday life. Due to these effects, judges do not typically award custody to the parent who has a DVRO against them if the judge determines that there is a high likelihood of domestic violence happening again.

A parent who has a DVRO against him/her can still be granted visitation rights, although these may be rather limited. Often this means this parent must be supervised while visiting his/her child or cannot have the child over to spend the night at their house.

Will a Judge Grant Full or Joint Custody to a Parent with a DVRO?

A parent with a DVRO can still seek out custody with the assistance of a lawyer. There may even be appropriate situations where the court grants joint or full custody to the parent who has a history of domestic violence. To do so, the court will review the following:

  • Has the parent completed court-ordered domestic violence programs?
  • What are the living conditions like for the child at each parent’s home?
  • What is the relationship between the child and each parent?
  • What custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child?
  • Does the parent with the DVRO have any other record of domestic violence?

The court strives to do what is in the best interests of the child, which might mean awarding a parent with a DVRO issue with custody. It is important to note that the court will consider the length of time that has passed since the DVRO was issued, what amends were made, if treatment programs were completed, and other factors before doing so. The court understands that if these steps were accomplished that they could have a positive enough effect to help change an individual and make him/her a better caregiver.

If you need support with your child custody case, contact us online or call us at (704) 343-8811 to schedule a consultation.