It is an unfortunate fact that domestic violence, which can include physical, verbal and emotional abuse, affects many Grand Rapids families.
Oftentimes, it is domestic violence that leads to a divorce or a breakup, meaning that the couple will have to either agree on custody and parenting time or go to court to get an order setting out the parenting plan.
Like other states, Michigan does offer some protection for domestic violence victims facing child custody matters. Court must consider evidence of domestic violence when making custody and parenting time decisions in order to protect the best interest of the children involved.
The good news is that this rule applies to all types of domestic violence. In other words, it does not matter if the domestic violence did not involve the children themselves. Moreover, a criminal charge or a police investigation is not necessary
Even if the children did not actually witness the violence and even if they are not afraid of the perpetrator, a court can still consider domestic violence as the serious issue that it is.
The court can order sole legal custody to the parent who did not commit the violence, meaning that parent has the exclusive right to make decisions for the child. In some cases, a judge may even restrict the perpetrator’s parenting time, order counseling or take other steps.
Parents need to understand, though, that just because judges can take action against domestic violence does not mean they will.
Domestic violence is just one factor among many that a judge will consider, and the ultimate goal will always be to do what is best for the child. As a result, a victim of domestic violence, or a person wrongly accused of it, will want to prepare carefully for any child custody or parenting time proceeding.