How Does Domestic Violence Affect Custody?

Child custody is a significant issue that comes up during a separation or divorce. When parents are unable to reach a mutually beneficial settlement on their own, the matter is then presented in front of a judge.

The ensuing court proceedings are often tough and can be stressful for everyone involved—including the children. To determine which parent would most likely be able to provide a safe environment and secure future for the child, there are several factors that a judge will assess.

Domestic violence is a big red flag when it comes to custody rights, and can tip the scales considerably during the proceedings.

Let’s discuss the issue in detail.

California Law on Domestic Violence

The California Penal Code 13700 defines “domestic violence” as abuse committed against an intimate partner, including a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant. A person commits “abuse” when they intentionally or recklessly use or threaten to use physical force against an intimate partner.

Additionally, according to the California Family Code 297.5 (a), “registered domestic partners” have the same rights and responsibilities as spouses, which means child custody cases with unmarried partners have the same implications as those who are married.

Effect of Domestic Violence on Custody

Domestic violence is a significant factor in deciding what type of custody arrangement is best for the child. Domestic violence doesn’t necessarily have to be between the two parents.

If a partner has a history of domestic abuse in a relationship, such as an abusive relationship with a former partner, the judge will most likely consider that too. Moreover, the judge will also strongly consider any violence committed by the parent against the child.

Since domestic violence is only one of the many factors considered, judges may still give custody or visitation rights to parents who have committed domestic violence, barring extreme cases. This is because judges believe it’s important for the child to maintain healthy relationships with both their parents.

However, if you can prove that your child’s mental, emotional, or physical health is at risk with the other parent, the judge will be inclined to limit their rights. These may include “supervised visitations” or fewer visits. To understand your legal options and build a strong case, it’s recommended that you work with experienced professionals.


If you’re looking for a professional child custody lawyer in Chico, California, we can help. At the Law Offices of Ron Marquez, our expert family law attorneys have years of experience helping clients with child custody arrangements.

Call us at 530-332-8110 to learn more about our services.


Disclaimer: This blog does not provide legal advice and is written for informative purposes. Reading the content of this blog or information contained on this site, or the transmission of information from or to this site does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.


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