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Safety Concerns

READ THIS IF YOU HAVE KIDS!

A history of domestic violence between you and the other parent can affect the custody or visitation arrangement for your children. The law presumes that the parent who committed the domestic violence might not get custody and visitation unless he or she meets certain requirements. These may include completing a batterer’s intervention or substance abuse treatment program. To find domestic violence, the law does not require the existence of a protective order or criminal charges. The divorce or custody judge may ask about domestic violence. If there has been domestic violence, you should talk with a lawyer about how this law will impact your case.

What if I have concerns about the other parent?

Issues of special concern in parenting plans:

The judge will not know about these concerns if you do not tell him or her in your papers and when you talk in court. If you have concerns for the child(ren)’s safety when in the care of the other parent, or for yourself when interacting with the other parent, you must describe the concern to the judge and suggest ways to make visitation or custody safe. If you are representing yourself and there are serious safety issues that you think you might not be able to explain adequately to the court, you may consider asking the court for a court custody investigator PDF

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How can the visits be made safer?

Some ideas for improving safety during visits include:

Every case is different, depending on what the specific problem is. If these issues exist in your case, it is important that you get help from an appropriate professional.

For more information about domestic violence, please visit the Domestic Violence page.

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Is it possible that the judge will prohibit the other parent from seeing the children?

It is unusual for a judge to decide that a parent cannot see their children in a divorce or custody case. There is research that shows it is important for a child to have a relationship with both parents if possible and it can happen in a safe manner. If you think the other parent should not have contact with your children, you will need to convince the judge that it is in the children’s best interests.

Judges are generally reluctant to not allow a parent contact with a child. However, if there is a history of domestic violence, the law presumes the parent with the domestic violence history might not get custody or visitation unless he or she meets certain requirements. These may include completing a batterer’s intervention or substance abuse treatment program. If the judge finds the domestic violence presumption applies, the judge will usually permit supervised contact between the parent and the children while the parent is completing a program. After the parent finishes the program and any other requirements the judge ordered, the judge may lift the supervised visitation restriction and allow a different parenting schedule.

To find a parent has a history of domestic violence, the law does not require the existence of a protective order or criminal charges. The divorce or custody judge may ask the parents about domestic violence. If there has been domestic violence, you should talk with a lawyer about how this law will impact your case.

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Rev. 20 August 2018
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