Child Custody and Domestic Violence

Domestic violence, and the resulting legal actions of temporary restraining orders and final restraining orders, are some of the most legally and emotionally impactful situations for any family to face.

For victims of domestic violence and abuse, securing legal protection for themselves and their children is of the utmost importance; while for individuals falsely accused of domestic violence, the restrictions and ramifications of a domestic violence charge need to be dealt with swiftly and effectively to avoid serious, long-term consequences.

One of the most important aspects affected by a domestic violence dispute is that of child custody. While New Jersey family courts are of the opinion that children of divorced parents should spend as much time as possible with both parents after a divorce, this understanding can change greatly when domestic violence becomes a factor.

Below, we will discuss how domestic violence can affect your Bergen County child custody agreement, and what options you have at your disposal for dealing with such a situation.

False Accusations of Domestic Violence and Your Bergen County Child Custody Agreement

If a parent makes false accusations of domestic violence against another, the courts may reduce access to their children during the negotiation of a child custody agreement, or a motion to modify a child custody agreement based on this circumstance.

It is highly likely that a family court will find that a child’s exposure to a parent capable of such a degree of deceit and manipulation is strongly against that child’s best interests. As a child’s best interests are the paramount determining factor of any legal matter involving children, chances are high that the court will either greatly reduce that parent’s parenting time and visitation rights, or even remove them altogether in extreme circumstances.

If you have been falsely accused of domestic violence, it is extremely important that you retain experienced legal counsel not only to protect your rights during a Final Restraining Order hearing, but also to protect your children’s best interest when it comes to a child custody agreement or a modification of a child custody agreement.

Incidents of Domestic Violence and Child Custody, Hackensack Family Law Attorneys

On the other hand, if a parent is proven to have committed acts of domestic violence, family law courts have the authority to limit that parent’s visitation time with their children or deny it entirely based upon the circumstances at hand. When making a child custody determination in cases where acts of domestic violence have occurred, a judge will consider the following factors when awarding child custody, or modifying a child custody agreement:

  • Were the incidents of domestic violence aimed at the children, the other parent, or both?
  • Does the violent parent continue to pose a threat to the children or the other parent?
  • Does the violent parent have a criminal record or a pending criminal case?
  • How many times did the parent commit acts of domestic violence?
  • What injuries, if any, did the act(s) of domestic violence incur?
  • The testimony of any involved police officers or other concerned parties

Based on the judge’s findings, they may order the violent parent to seek counseling, attend anger management, or attend parenting courses with the intended goal of becoming a more fit parent. In some cases, a judge may only temporarily limit the child custody of the offending parent contingent upon their rehabilitation, and in other cases may permanently revoke that parent’s access to, and visitation with, their children.

As you can see, New Jersey family courts have a great deal of discretion and authority when it comes to making child custody determinations involving incidents of domestic violence. While it is highly recommended you retain the counsel of an experienced Hackensack family law attorney any time you are dealing with child custody or domestic violence matters, when the two are tied together, it becomes even more important to have experienced legal representation on your side.

Contact Our Bergen County Child Custody and Domestic Violence Attorneys Today

At The Law Office of Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our attorneys have extensive experience successfully representing clients in all types of family law matters including divorce, child custody decisions, and domestic violence proceedings in towns across Bergen County, including Hackensack, Ridgewood, Paramus, Teaneck, and Fort Lee.

Whether you are in need of legal representation during a child custody decision, in need of legal protection from an abuser, or have been falsely accused of domestic violence, our firm is prepared to provide you with the knowledgeable, effective, and compassionate legal counsel that you need and deserve in matters so critical to your legal and parental future.

To speak with our family law team today in a free and confidential consultation regarding a child custody settlement or a child custody modification, a domestic violence proceeding such as a Temporary Restraining Order or a Final Restraining Order hearing, or for legal guidance and representation when domestic violence is affecting your child custody agreement, please contact us online, or through our Hackensack, NJ office at (201) 397-1750.

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