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Effect of domestic violence accusations on custody awards

With there being at least three million children witnessing acts of domestic violence annually across the country, it is suffice to say that it is becoming an epidemic in the country. In fact, many couples in Missouri as well as the rest of the country, may be filing for divorce because of domestic violence. When there are children involved in the marriage, the accusations of domestic violence affect both custody and visitation determinations.

With accusations of domestic violence flying about, courts are careful to consider a number of factors before deciding child custody. Among other factors, judges look at whether the acts were directed against or had an effect on the children involved and if the parent continues to pose a danger to the children in question. Courts try to determine future behavior by looking at the severity and frequency of domestic violence in the house and if there is a pending criminal case against the accused. Courts also consider evidence of abuse, such as photographs and police reports.

After making a custody award, courts also consider domestic violence when looking at visitation. They may revoke the allegedly abusive parent's visitation rights, short or long term, or order supervised visitation. Courts can go as far as to order anger management classes or participation in counseling. The judge can also change the visitation schedule or issue a restraining order against one of the parents.

Courts do not take any one parent's accusations at face value, and it is important for either party to be ready to present their side of the case for child custody and visitation in court. Courts take their responsibility to ensure a child's wellbeing very seriously and consider a number of factors when making their decisions and an experienced attorney may be able to help individuals prepare the best case to put their side forward.

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Joseph J. Porzenski
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