Do Allegations of Domestic Abuse Affect Child Custody in California?


June 15, 2022, In Child Custody

At WHITMARSH FAMILY LAW, PC, our family law attorney in Los Angeles knows that domestic violence can impact California divorce proceedings in multiple ways — including when the couple shares children and child custody details are pending.

However, a couple does not have to be married to have domestic violence impact how child custody decisions are made. If you share a child or multiple children with someone who has been accused or convicted of domestic violence charges — whether you are, were, or never married to him or her — your child custody case may be influenced by those details.

Here is what California parents need to know about domestic violence and child custody.

How Does the State of California Define Domestic Violence?

In California, domestic violence is defined by injurious behavior between parties that share an intimate relationship.

Domestic violence includes:

  • Any other behavior that could cause a court to issue a domestic protective order, including harassment, unwanted telephone calls, stalking, threats, and physical assault.
  • Intentionally or recklessly causing or trying to cause bodily injury.
  • Sexual assault.
  • Making others reasonably afraid that they or someone else is in danger of immediate bodily injury.

These acts are considered domestic violence when they are committed against people:

  • Who are current and former spouses.
  • Who live together or formerly lived together on a regular basis.
  • Who are related by blood or marriage.
  • Who have children together, or against the children.
  • Who are or have been dating or engaged.

If you are seeking custody of your children and would like to introduce allegations of domestic violence to help strengthen your case and help keep your kids safe, contact our skilled family law attorneys in Los Angeles today for help.

How Does Domestic Violence Impact Child Custody in California?

There are two types of child custody decisions that must be made in California. They include who gets legal custody, which is a parent’s right to help make major decisions about a child’s life, and physical custody, which refers to where the child lives.

Like most states, physical custody can be decided by awarding one parent primary custody, or by splitting the children’s time between both homes through shared or joint custody.

The California legislature’s public policy on child custody is to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of children. With that primary goal in mind, the legislation states that it is detrimental to a child if domestic violence or abuse is perpetrated in the home.

That means California child custody laws require family law judges to take domestic abuse into account when determining legal and physical custody.

California Family Courts must also consider any history of abuse by a parent against:

  • The other parent.
  • A parent, current spouse, fiancé or fiancée, girlfriend or boyfriend in a dating relationship, or roommate of the parent or person seeking custody.
  • Any child to whom the abusive parent is related by blood or marriage.
  • Any child with whom the abusive parent has had a caretaking relationship.

When a judge considers allegations of abuse in a custody case, he or she can review evidence that substantiates the abuse claims, including police reports, child protective service records, medical facility reports, and claims from social welfare agencies.

Before the other parent can overcome the existing domestic violence evidence, and be considered for any type of shared custody, he or she must prove their rehabilitation to the judge. Until then, primary custody will typically be awarded to the victimized parent.

Contact WHITMARSH FAMILY LAW, PC Today to Schedule a Free Consultation

If you have questions about child custody and domestic violence, contact our skilled family law attorneys in Los Angeles County at WHITMARSH FAMILY LAW, PC by calling 310-552-3505 to schedule a free consultation today.

We can help provide solutions that produce results.

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