Domestic violence leaves more than physical scars. The impact of domestic violence on the abused person and the rest of the family is quite severe both physically and emotionally. The unfortunate reality is that domestic violence plays a role in many child custody disputes in Pennsylvania. In today's blog, our Western Pennsylvania Domestic Violence lawyers discuss the role that domestic violence plays in child custody cases.
In Pennsylvania custody hearings, acts of domestic violence will be used as evidence and discussed openly. It is important to know, that an abusive parent does not automatically lose their parental rights. Many individuals assume that based on acts of domestic violence, the abusers parental rights will be terminated, this, however, is not always the case. Cases where one or few incidents of domestic abuse are discussed may severely limit or potentially cause the party who is the abuse to have supervised visits, and typically only in cases where there is severe, chronic abuse will parental rights be terminated.
In Allegheny County, domestic violence in custody matters extends beyond the mother and father of the child or children. If the parties are currently living separately, the other individuals in their household will also be assessed. For example, if mother is dating a new boyfriend and the boyfriend has allegedly abused her, the children, or both, this will severely impact the outcome of the custody proceeding. The family court does a preliminary check on individuals who live in either party's household prior to the beginning of any custody dispute.
Both parties are required to submit an Affidavit of Household, which lists all individuals over the age of 18 that they reside with and sign a form attesting to their criminal history or lack of criminal history. This helps the Allegheny County family court identify potential issues and keep the best interest of the child at the center of the case.
Pennsylvania child custody disputes can be very complex, and they are even more complex when domestic violence is involved. In order to protect yourself and your children, it is in your best interest to obtain the representation of an experienced Pennsylvania Domestic Violence Attorney. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact us today.