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Domestic violence can play a big role in child custody matters

A relationship can sour for one of any number of reasons. Infidelity, financial irresponsibility, and even growing disinterest in one another are all reasons couples have decided to go their separate ways. Although certain divorce and family law issues will likely need to be addressed in these instances, the actual cause of the breakup in these instances may not be as important as it is when domestic violence has occurred.

Domestic violence often plays a key role in child custody and visitation determinations. As we have discussed before, a court will make decisions on these issues in a way that it finds furthers a child's best interests. When domestic violence occurs, a court will consider how that violence has affected he child in the past, as well as how it may affect him or her in the future.

The effects of domestic violence on children may be more far-reaching than many of us think. Some estimate that as many four million children are exposed to domestic violence each year, which may include seeing and/or hearing the violence. These children may become anxious at home, and they may turn the blame on themselves. These children also often wind up feeling isolated and vulnerable. They might even exhibit physical symptoms, such as headaches, bedwetting, and a loss of focus. In the long-term, domestic violence exposure can leave a child more likely to resort to violence as a problem-solving technique, and he or she may be more likely to engage in alcohol and drug abuse, as well as criminal activity.

For this reason, reducing and eliminating a child's exposure to violence can be critical, a dispute that may come up during child custody proceedings. When custody and/or visitation is challenged and domestic violence is a concern, parents need to be able to put forth strong evidence in support of their position. In these cases, this may very well be the only way to fully protect the child's safety and well-being.

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