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Domestic Violence Hurts Custody Rights

A Rhode Island woman recently passed away from injuries sustained in a domestic violence incident, leaving behind her two-year-old son. While not all domestic violence ends in such tragic circumstances, domestic violence is far too common in American society. This means that family courts have to calculate how perpetrating domestic violence affects a parent's right to custody.

Best interest of the child

Rhode Island law says that courts must award whichever form of custody is in the best interest of the child. Courts determine this by evaluating a number of factors, such as:

  • How well the parents cooperate with each other
  • How each parent encourages the sharing of love and contact between the child and their other parent
  • The history of abuse or violence
  • The geographic proximity of the parties

The effects of domestic violence

If a Rhode Island court concludes that domestic violence has occurred in a family, there may be a shift in the custody arrangements. When evaluating custody in a marriage marked by domestic violence, the courts examine the following factors in addition to other variables:

  • The physical safety of the child and the other parent
  • The perpetrator's history of violence and intimidation
  • Whether the non-perpetrator parent fled or relocated because of the domestic violence

A court's examination of these factors when determining custody is particularly important in light of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' report that at least 3.3 million children witness abuse of a parent each year.

If you find yourself in a divorce proceeding involving domestic violence during the marriage, it is very important to consult with a Rhode Island family law attorney. Contact our office to schedule a consultation.