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When Domestic violence is used as a sword to gain custody of a child during family law litigation

by | Mar 1, 2017 | Custody & Visitation, Domestic Violence, Firm News

Often in family law cases it is who files first or who fires the first shot over the bow that can gain an immediate advantage when it comes to child custody and visitation issues in family law courts.  Often parties are deceived into convincing themselves that filing any allegation of abuse or neglect or something about the other party they will gain a substantial advantage in the family court battle over custody.  Sometimes this tactic you can prevail and sometimes you can look bad in front of the Family Law Judges.  Domestic violence and child custody are very serious issues that cannot be taken lightly. To determine the truth of the domestic violence assertions often the Judge must investigate further to find who is more credible.  This can entail doing a Court ordered Child custody investigation to determine who is the aggressor and who is the victim.  The Courts are equipped to get to the bottom of the the allegations of violence and harassment.  Since often most litigants in Family law represent themselves they also feel they can get away with filing frivolous documents in hope and belief the Judge will buy their story and they will get what they want.  However, these Family Law judges usually are very savvy and have experienced many allegations of domestic violence and often can discern fact from fiction.

The Domestic Violence laws were enacted to protect victims of domestic violence and give them special and warranted protection from an abusive relationship to which they could not escape or find safety.  It is meant to give these victims a safe haven from a cycle of violence that otherwise they would not be able avoid.  It requires little evidence to show the court in order to gain the relief they seek.  However, now the Courts must often take a step back and decide whether these victims do not just use the Domestic Violence protection laws to their own advantage and file these lawsuits with a little bit of truth and a lot of fiction.

If a child is involved which often it is in the family law cases, a Court investigator can interview the child if they are old enough and determine whether they witnessed arguments between Mom and Dad.  And if they were witnesses what did they see.  They often more times than not are the true purveyors of the facts of each case.

In addition, some Courts the Judges can step in and do what is called an “in camera” hearing and interview the child alone in the Judges Chambers.  This interview can be the most cost effective and most effective way to gather information for the Court and make a quick judgment about the credibility of the parties and witnesses.

Furthermore, the Court can order an independent Lawyer to be appointed and they can speak with the child and can report to the Court about what the child perceives and wants and witnessed as far as domestic violence between the parties.  This however, involves adding another lawyer to the litigation and raises the costs of litigation.  But this is a common and effective way to accurately portray to the Court what type of Domestic Violence occurred.