Initiating a divorce when you’ve experienced domestic violence is an extraordinarily hard task for many in similar situations. It’s also vital to understand how the domestic violence you’ve endured will impact your child custody arrangement, especially if you fear for your child’s safety while they are in the custody of your abuse. Understanding what you can expect in terms of child custody when you file for divorce is essential. Keep reading to learn what your options are and how a Tazewell County domestic violence lawyer can help you through this challenging time.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a crime that can occur when one party, who shares an intimate relationship with the other, commits a crime against them. Illinois defines this intimate relationship as those who are dating, married, share a child, live in the same home, or are blood-related. However, friends or coworkers cannot be accused of domestic violence.
Examples of this abuse include the following crimes:
- Sexual assault
- Denying the necessary care
- Forcing someone to watch the abuse of another party
How Can it Affect Child Custody Arrangements?
Generally, when awarding custody following a divorce, the courts believe it is in the best interest of the child to spend time with both parents. However, in Illinois, when domestic violence is present, judges will give extra weight to these claims. This is because all divorce courts will consider several factors, including whether or not either parent has a history of violence towards the other parent or any other person for that matter.
Often times courts will take accounts of domestic abuse into higher consideration, as they believe that the violent party is likely to:
- Physically or mentally abuse the child
- Refuse to return the child after the custody period
- Use their visitation as a means to harass and abuse other members of the child’s household
However, a judge could award visitation periods in which they will grant additional protections to the members of the family. This may include ensuring that the parent accused of domestic violence does not learn your address, refusing the parent from coming to your home to pick up or drop off the child, holding visitation periods in a different location, and prohibiting communication between the parents.
Similarly, the courts may only allow supervised visitation, in which a social worker must be present, and the time spent with the child must occur at an agency. In extreme circumstances, the courts may terminate the parental rights of a domestic abuser.
When you’re divorcing an abusive partner with whom you share a child, you may want to do everything possible to ensure they are protected. At Butler, Giruado & Meister, we will do everything in our power to protect you and your children. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you through this troubling time.