Domestic violence is a very serious crime, and the effects of it ripple out from families into communities. Domestic violence has the potential to tear families apart, even in just a strictly legal sense. Beyond potential restraining orders and jail time, domestic violence cases strongly impact child custody situations in the event of divorce. According to Findlaw, if one parent is found to commit domestic violence, then it is possible that sole custody will be awarded to the other parent and visitation may be supervised or suspended altogether. 

What is sole custody? 

Typically, the family court tries to do what is in the best interest of the children during divorce. Several studies have shown that children of divorce tend to do the best when both parents are actively involved in their lives, even in the event that their parents are no longer legally married or romantically involved. However, this is not the case when one of the parents commits domestic violence. 

The presence of domestic violence means that the child is more likely to be in the sole custody of the nonviolent parent, for the sake of the child’s safety. 

What is visitation? 

In the event that sole custody is awarded to one of the parents, the other parent is typically allowed a level of visitation, or time periods where the child will be visiting with the parent (typically over a weekend). However, if the non-custodial parent is found to be violent, then it is possible that this visitation period will need to be supervised or it may be eliminated altogether for the safety of the child.