In a divorce or other family law proceeding, custody and visitation disputes can get intense.
Sometimes, the reason for the conflict is that one parent has been abusive either to the child or the other parent. It may also be the case that a parent has abused someone else, which would naturally still make the other parent nervous.
Not surprisingly, no parent wants their children to be in the custody of or even have contact with an abuser if that is at all going to make the children unsafe.
Sadly, sometimes a parent may also make up allegations, or exaggerate, in order to get an advantage in a child custody proceeding.
The consequences of a domestic violence claim can be severe
Like other states, Alabama has laws in place that are supposed to protect children from abuse.
One of these laws creates what it is called a rebuttable presumption that a person who has engaged in domestic violence may not have child custody, even if the custody is shared.
This means the parent will likely not have the children for even half the time and will not have decision-making authority on important issues involving them.
A parent may try to convince the judge that he or she is capable of providing a safe, stable environment, and the judge must consider to what extent the alleged abuse actually impacted the children.
A separate law requires the court not to allow unrestricted visitation to a parent who has been credibly accused of domestic violence. The court may only allow visitation in a way that protects the child and, assuming he or she is the victim, the other parent.
Restrictions can include supervised visits, mandatory counseling, and other protections which may seem designed to punish the accused parent.
These laws have a long reach. Even if a person faces no criminal charges, he or she still can face a domestic violence accusation in a family law court. The violence need not have involved or even have been witnessed by the child.
Whether a parent is trying to prevent further abuse or trying to fend off false accusations, he or she should be aware of the available legal options.