It is estimated that more than one million women endure some kind of domestic abuse each year. While the national rate of domestic violence incidents is declining overall, it doesn’t take away the pain and scars that innocent women endure at the hands of their spouse. For many women, it takes several attempts at leaving before they are finally able to cut ties with their abusive spouse for good.
If you have recently left an abusive spouse and are fighting for custody of your child, then you need to hire and notify a child custody lawyer, like a child custody lawyer in Collin County, TX, prior to the child custody hearing. It is important to gather evidence and make your claims against the abusive spouse so that your children are protected from harm.
Best Interests of the Child
As your attorney may tell you, the court is most concerned about the health and safety of the child when determining the verdict. The judge will hear from both spouses and then arrive at a conclusion based on the information presented. The judge may ask about each parent’s income, living arrangements, relationship with the child, and their ability to provide for the child’s needs. The court must also take into account any history of violence in the home that affected the child.
Helpful documents to give the judge during your child custody hearing include:
- Police reports from domestic violence incidents
- Records from a child protective agency
- Description of injuries, medical exams, and treatment costs that resulted due to domestic violence
- Photographic or video evidence of the abuse or injuries
- Threatening notes or voicemails left by the abusive spouse
The Abusive Parent’s Rebuttal
After hearing claims about domestic abuse in the home within the last five years of marriage or relationship, the judge will have to enforce a “rebuttable presumption.” This means that the abusive parent will not be permitted to have joint or sole custody of the children unless the claims can be overcome by evidence. It is up to the victim’s spouse to provide strong and sufficient evidence to protect themselves and children from more harm.
An attorney can be especially useful during this time by answering questions, helping the victim parent gather proof and necessary documents for the child custody hearing, giving advice about how to show they are the most fit parent to have custody, and offering representation. The court will evaluate these factors when deciding if the abusive spouse can surmount the rebuttable presumption:
- Whether the abusive spouse has completed a treatment program for alcohol, chemical dependency, anger management, or other courses, such as parenting classes.
- Whether the abusive spouse can show that obtaining custody is in the child’s best interests.
- Whether the abusive spouse has abided by requirements enforced during parole or probation.
- Whether the abusive spouse has committed other acts of domestic abuse since the claims were brought forward to the court.
- Whether the abusive spouse has respected and not violated protective orders.
If you or someone you know has experienced abuse in a relationship that is ending in divorce, speak with a criminal defense lawyer or a child custody lawyer to help assist in your case. Thanks to Scroggins Law Group for their insight into the importance of getting an attorney if you faced abuse in a relationship that is ending in divorce and a child custody battle.