As we have discussed previously on this blog, there are many factors that go into determining what constitutes a child’s best interest for child custody purposes. Matters such as each parent’s financial health, mental well-being, and relationship with the child can all play a significant role in a court’s child custody determination. Other issues can have a profound impact, too. For example, we previously discussed the effects of substance abuse on a child’s welfare. A child who is exposed to substance abuse can develop social and emotional issues that are detrimental to their well-being. This evidence can be powerful at a child custody hearing.
Likewise, domestic violence can cause irreparable harm to a child. The child in question doesn’t have to be the subject of the abuse, either. Instead, mere exposure to domestic violence can increase a child’s risk of engaging in risky behaviors and developing mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. These children also often develop feelings of guilt, frustration, shame, fear for the future, and abandonment.
The list of harm caused by exposure to domestic violence doesn’t end there, though. Children who are exposed to violence in their household can develop cognitive problems as well as issues related to their verbal and motor skills. These children may regress in their potty training, exhibit aggressive behaviors, and even engage in self-harming behaviors. These effects can last a lifetime.
Fortunately, the damage caused by exposure to domestic violence can be mitigated. One way to do so is to ensure that the child has a safe, stable, and loving home environment. This is where a child custody determination can prove pivotal. By taking appropriate legal action, a parent may be able to obtain a child custody and visitation arrangement that protects his or her child from violence and abusive relationships. Those who want to learn more about how to utilize evidence of domestic violence to support their position on child custody and visitation should think about discussing the matter with a family law attorney they trust.