Note: If you are suffering from domestic abuse, you should contact law enforcement professionals and seek help as soon as possible. You can reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-7233, by texting 1-800-787-3224, or by following this link. If you're in Missouri, you can contact the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence by following this link or find a directory of service providers that help victims of domestic and sexual violence by clicking here.

Acts of intimate partner violence (also referred to as domestic violence or abuse) can be a critical factor in initiating a divorce or split between two parties. However, when those parties share a child, ending the relationship often involves a child custody battle. Here's what you need to know about how domestic abuse affects co-parenting in Missouri.

Can an Abuser Gain Custody?

During child custody battles, the court typically pursues a joint custody arrangement. However, complicating factors such as domestic violence or abuse can affect the custody process and cause the court to award sole custody, limiting the abuser's access to their child. Acts of domestic violence may even result in the court removing the alleged abuser's custodial rights entirely.

Unfortunately, many abusers try and manipulate the child custody process to retain custody of their child. This can be dangerous since individuals who commit domestic violence may be more likely to be violent and controlling towards their children.

Unfortunately, courts don't always make the correct judgment during child custody battles and sometimes award abusers custody, even if doing so jeopardizes the child's safety. The presence of domestic violence can have adverse effects on the abuse victim and the co-parenting dynamic as a whole.

How Domestic Abuse Affects Co-Parenting

The Judicial Council of California conducted a study on how domestic abuse affects the co-parenting dynamic. Their findings were as follows:

  • Children under the custody of a domestic abuser may be in danger. According to the study, in 40% of situations where domestic abuse was present, child maltreatment was also present. Domestic abusers were also more likely to be authoritarian or controlling parents.
  • The non-abuser may suffer increased stress. When an abuser is a co-parent, their victim may experience increased stress on a day-to-day basis. However, the study notes that increased stress does not always translate into diminished parenting on behalf of the victim.
  • The non-abusive parent may overcompensate for the presence of the abuser with increased nurturing. The study found that victims of domestic abuse were more likely to offer increased nurturing and protection to their children.
  • The child may suffer detrimental effects. Children exposed to domestic violence have been shown to exhibit behavioral problems such as hostility and aggression more frequently.
  • A custody order modification may be necessary. If the abuser engages in child abuse or maltreatment, the non-abusive parent may need to file for a custody order modification to remove the abuser from the parenting arrangement.

At Smith Law Offices, LLC, our attorneys have the tools to help you navigate your child custody battle or order modification.

To receive a consultation from our firm and start fighting for your parent rights, contact us online or via phone at (636) 400-1177

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