Will a domestic violence conviction affect my parenting time with my child(ren)?

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One of the factors considered when determining the amount and duration of parenting time is “the reasonable likelihood of abuse or neglect of the child.” In general, attorneys, referees, and judges presume that harm done to the victim in a domestic violence criminal case necessarily means the defendant will have a propensity to harm the parties’ child(ren), even when there’s no history of such behavior. It’s because of this unwritten presumption that the defendant must decide whether to fight the domestic violence charges.

If the defendant is ultimately convicted of domestic violence, the nature and extent of the conviction’s effect on parenting time will depend upon the facts and circumstances. What is the degree of harm done to the victim? Were children harmed? Is there any emotional trauma to either the victim or the children? Is there a history of domestic violence in the home? Does the defendant suffer from any mental illnesses, such as bi-polar disorder or PTSD? Does the defendant or victim abuse alcohol or drugs?

This is a very fact sensitive area. The law provides that parents must have a healthy parenting time schedule with the children, but courts will not play around with a child’s safety. I have seen many cases where the defendant’s parenting time with the child(ren) is either suspended or severely limited to supervised visitation immediately when the defendant is merely charged (not convicted) with domestic assault.

These underlying family law issues play a significant role in a defendant’s decision on whether to end the criminal case quickly (so that parenting time can be restored expeditiously) or to dispute the charges (even if that means limited parenting time as a result).

If the defendant’s parenting time is suspended or placed under supervision, counseling will always be a necessary prerequisite to have unsupervised parenting time returned to the defendant. A licensed social worker, psychiatrist or psychologist will need to interview the parties and the children to determine when, or if, the defendant may have unsupervised visitation.

A lawyer’s knowledge on how to resolve parenting time when domestic violence is present in a cost-effective manner is an important factor for one to consider when hiring an attorney. It’s also important to consider whether your attorney has experience with coming up with a solution with these dynamics. Consider the LaBre Law Office. We’ve helped numerous families come up with peaceful resolutions in these difficult cases.*

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