Domestic Violence and Its Impact on Custody

When awarding custody after trial, an Indiana court will take many factors into account. While the court must always consider the best interests of the child, one of the questions the court will ask is whether there has been domestic violence in the household. The existence of domestic violence will affect a custody award, and it can affect visitation. It’s important to know what an Indiana court is looking for and what the court is required to do according to Indiana law.

What is Domestic Violence in Indiana?

Domestic violence can include all types of acts or threats. It can be a crime and can result in a court issuing an order of protection. It can also be considered family violence. If the act is not prosecuted under the criminal law, it can be dealt with in the family courts.

Domestic violence is violent behavior between family members or between people in the same household. It includes violence between a husband and wife or between former spouses, a parent and a child, people in a dating relationship, or people in a former dating relationship. Some of the violent acts are assault, battery, kidnapping, sexual assault, or the threat of any of them.

Examples of domestic violence are where the perpetrator:

  • Puts a family or household member in fear of physical harm
  • Causes physical harm to a family or household member
  • Threatens to cause physical harm to a family or household member
  • Threatens or forces a family or household member to engage in sexual activity against their will
  • Stalks a family or household member, or
  • Abuses or kills an animal for the purpose of threatening or putting a family or household member in fear

How Does Domestic Violence Affect a Custody Award?

In Indiana, domestic violence can affect the outcome of a custody case. There are two categories of domestic violence that the court has to consider — 1) where the perpetrator is charged with it, or 2) where the perpetrator has been convicted of it. There is a difference in the outcome of custody and visitation depending on whether or not there is a conviction, although a charge of domestic violence will be considered. The court will also consider whether there is a pattern of domestic violence before determining who should have custody.

When a court awards custody, the court will consider many factors in making its determination.  Domestic violence is among the factors that a court will consider.

How are Custody and Visitation Affected by a Conviction?

If there’s no conviction for domestic violence, it’s still possible for the parent who committed domestic violence to get custody depending on other factors the court must consider, such as the best interests of the child.

If, however, there’s actually a conviction of domestic or family violence, and if the child witnessed or heard the violent act, the court will order supervised visitation of the child and possibly of all of the children.

When a court orders supervised visitation because of domestic violence, the perpetrator will not get custody. Supervised visitation under Indiana law is for 1-2 years or until emancipation, whichever comes first. It’s possible for a court to deny supervised visitation upon a strong argument as to why the court shouldn’t order it. However, in order to forgo supervised visitation, the court may require the perpetrator to attend a certified batterer’s intervention program.

Carmel Family Lawyers are Experienced with Custody Cases

Our Carmel family lawyer is experienced with custody cases, including custody cases that involve domestic violence. The lawyer understands how domestic violence can impact a custody case, and can help you whether you are the perpetrator or whether you are the victim. Contact Hains Law, LLC today to receive outstanding representation for your custody case.


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