Some of the most important decisions made during a divorce, surround children. The parental responsibilities established during the process are made to set the child up for a safe and positive future where they can receive equal love and care. Although this arrangement is the ideal outcome, the reality changes drastically under the circumstances of family violence. When courts are made to decide for a child’s future, custody cases become complicated. Concern for domestic violence is very serious and any accusations made will ultimately change the way a judge regards the accused in court.
Child custody cases will always differ depending on the specifics of the situation at hand. In this article we will be going over 3 things to keep in mind when you are battling a child custody case to help you understand how to approach the process and do what’s best for you and your family. So, what does the court consider when making decisions upon the concern for family violence?
1. The Best Interests Of The Child
With the new Divorce Act in place, changes have been implemented to give children a voice during custody battles. The prioritization of child wellness and their futures during these cases is being viewed with more importance. It is now more commonly understood that the decisions made in court regarding parenting time directly impact how children are set up to grow and learn.
2. How Family Violence is Defined
When a concern for domestic violence has been communicated, the judge will look to explore any accusations of abuse, mistreatment or neglect. Even if the child is not the direct victim, the court is required to consider their safety and wellbeing. A judge may decide that the individual accused of abuse is not a suitable guardian for a child.
Although, the concern for family violence is taken very seriously in court, a judge will not take a parent’s word for it before reviewing the situation in detail. Some factors that may be considered in court are:
- The history of abuse in the family
- How severe the violence is and how frequently it occurs
- Any presented evidence of abuse (such as photographs or threatening messages)
- Previous police reports that have documented abuse
Considering these factors will help judges determine if abuse in the family is regular behaviour and therefore the likeliness of it continuing.
3. The Parenting Plan
When dealing with a contested divorce as a result of family violence, developing a strong parenting plan can provide some relief. The plan is established in order to keep everyone safe with strict rules that would be difficult to take advantage of.
Here are some ways that parenting plans aim to keep families safe:
- Specific dates, times and locations are outlined when it is time for the child to see the other parent
- Communication rules are established to control what contact is allowed between the parent and child (this also applies to communication between both parents)
- Upon further safety concerns, a supervised visitation may be part of the terms in order to prevent a child from being alone with their other parent.
If you are a survivor of family violence, it is very important to consider a family lawyer who can represent you through the divorce process. There are options for you and your children as you adjust to changes in family life after divorce.
At Hussain Law we focus on helping our clients navigate the emotional and financial challenges of separation and divorce. Our office remains fully operational, and we have implemented various new procedures that allow us to continue to advise clients seamlessly during this time. If you have a family law issue that you need assistance with, please contact Ayesha Hussain at 647-428-3919.