Domestic violence is a common and widespread problem in American households, but one of the safest and best ways to stop the abuse is to physically separate from the abuser, especially if the victims of abuse are children who because of their size, are unable to defend themselves.
If you or your child is a victim of domestic violence at the hands of your spouse, we urge you to continue reading. Asking for help is the first step, but you must do so carefully. Without proper legal advice, you could unintentionally make a mistake, which could place you or your children in harm's way.
As a victim of abuse, you have legal rights. Your children have the right to live in a safe home, free from verbal, sexual, or physical abuse, but you must take steps that protect you legally, especially your rights to child custody, but also necessary child and spousal support.
Are you living in a violent home?
If your husband or wife is abusing you or your child, it's critical that you have a parenting plan created that keeps your family safe. We strongly recommend talking to an attorney to find the best way to protect yourself legally.
If you are considering obtaining a domestic violence restraining order, a legal separation, or a divorce from your abusive spouse, you want to talk to your lawyer about a parenting plan that includes a plan for:
- Supervised visits
- A safe place to drop off and pick up your children
- Arrangements so you do not have to see your ex
California's Child Custody Laws on Domestic Violence
California does have laws that specifically address child custody situations where there is a history of domestic violence. In such situations, the judge will first decide if the case does in fact involve domestic violence.
Basically, family court judges treat cases as domestic violence cases if in the previous 5 years, one of the parents was convicted of domestic violence against their spouse, or if any court decided that one of the parents committed domestic violence against their spouse or children.
Even if your spouse committed domestic violence more than 5 years ago, the San Diego courts can take that into consideration in your current child custody case.
Generally, when a judge decides that a case does involve domestic violence, the judge CANNOT give joint or sole custody to the abusive parent, but he or she can get visitation rights. However, there are exceptions and you should discuss this carefully with an attorney from our firm.
If you are dealing with an abusive spouse, contact the San Diego divorce attorneys at Claery & Hammond, LLP for a free case evaluation. We're here to help in every way possible – please reach out today!