The Effect of Domestic Violence on Child Custody in Minnesota

Child custody is one of the most complex and difficult matters relating to a divorce. When parents cannot agree to a custody arrangement, they will often petition a court for assistance, putting a judge in the position of deciding how to allocate custody. For Minnesota courts, the most important factor a judge considers is what it in the best interest of the child. This is not an easy determination and much goes into consideration when deciding how to best serve the custody needs of a child.

Judges will examine a myriad of factors about the parents and their respective living environments to help decide custody. These factors include the preexisting living arrangements of the child, the parents’ relative fitness, the relationship between the child and his or her parents, the ability and willingness of each parent to offer love and support and the network of friends and family that the respective homes offer. Judges attempt to balance all of these considerations to make a decision about what will be in the best interest of the child.

One consideration judges take particularly seriously in custody matters is that of domestic abuse. Because the emotional and physical well-being of a child is of paramount importance in a custody matter, Minnesota judges must consider matters of domestic abuse. This includes abuse between the parents as well as abuse toward the children. If a judge determines that one parent is abusive, he or she is unlikely to gain custody of their child.

Evidence of domestic abuse not only affects a parent’s right to custody, but it can also have an impact on his or her visitation rights. If, for instance, there is a domestic abuse protection order against one parent, the judge has to weigh that information when determining a visitation schedule and when a parent should have access to his or her child.

Child custody hearings are difficult for parents, and issues like abuse can present even greater complications. If you are seeking custody of your children, speak with a dedicated Minnesota family law attorney at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A.

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