California family court judges must promote the best interests of the child when making custody decisions. These best interests normally include maintaining a child’s relationship with both parents. This process becomes more complicated when domestic violence allegations enter the picture. Allegations or a documented criminal history of a parent’s abusive behavior could force a judge to consider restricting access to a child.
Does the parent pose a danger to the child?
Judges have the task of determining whether a parent would act abusively toward a child in the future. They must also consider the potential threat to the other parent if the alleged abuser retains access to the child.
A documented history of domestic violence that included the child would tend to make a judge lean toward denying physical custody. A judge might prefer to order supervised visitation if police reports or medical records indicate that a child suffered physical or psychological harm in the past.
On the other hand, poorly documented allegations of domestic violence or claims from many years ago could persuade a judge to act more leniently. If a child never witnessed the violence and appears to have a positive relationship with the parent, custody or visitation becomes a possibility.
Parents may sometimes regain access to their children by completing courses ordered by a court. A judge who believes a person could become a better parent with the right guidance may restore custody or visitation if the parent attends anger management classes or receives counseling for domestic abusers.
A judge could revisit the matter after a parent completes the required counseling. A counselor’s report regarding the parent’s progress or lack of progress could then prove influential to the custody hearing.