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Abusive spouses and child custody: what courts often consider

Divorce can be brutal. But for some couples, it may be best for them and their children’s safety. Sadly, many mothers in Oklahoma are no strangers to domestic abuse. According to recent reports, the state’s average for domestic violence fatalities is 1.57 for every 100,000 people.

If victims can escape, they may still have to go through the divorce process and establish child custody.

How courts determine child custody in these situations

In many cases, courts have to decide whether the alleged abuser, the alleged abuse victim or both get physical custody of their children.

Most courts take domestic violence charges very seriously. That’s because many are afraid the child could endure substantial harm if they wind up with the wrong parent. However, this doesn’t mean the judge will always grant sole custody to the alleged victim.

Because judges try to keep the children’s best interests in mind, victims usually must demonstrate that they or their kids faced abuse at the hands of the abusive spouse. Or they may have to show that staying in contact with them could put either in grave danger.

Factors a judge may consider

These are just a few examples:

  • If the alleged abuse had a negative or direct impact on the children.
  • If there’s physical evidence of abuse like videos or photographs.
  • Police reports document any alleged abuse.
  • The severity and frequency of the accused’s behavior.
  • If there’s a pending criminal case against the accused spouse.
  • Whether judges believe the accused still poses a threat to the spouse and kids.

These cases can impact more than just an abusive spouse’s ability to care for their children; a judge may use their verdict to determine other parenting matters. Those can include giving the custodial parent authority to determine when or if the abusive spouse can see the kids. They could also require their ex to take anger management classes before allowing visitation.