Domestic violence is a traumatic, and terrifying, ordeal. When children are involved, either as witnesses or as targets, it is that much more devastating. The emotional and psychological ramifications of domestic violence are clear – but what about the legal consequences when it comes to custody?
The “Child’s Best Interest”
In Illinois, the court starts with the position that the child’s best interest is served by not living or having visitation with the abusive parent. Both parents have to inform the judge of all domestic violence-related proceedings. If the judge deems that visiting the abusive parent would endanger a child’s health – physical, mental, or emotional – he or she will not grant visitation. He or she can also restrict access if the abuser is likely to use visitation to harass the other parent.
If the judge does allow visitation, there may well be restrictions in place, such as prohibiting the abusive parent from knowing the other parent’s address or meeting at the residence, requiring supervised visits, or mandating “electronic visits” – via phone, video messaging, etc. instead of in-person.
In terms of supervised visitation, the abusive parent may have to pay the fees associated with a supervising agency, or, in some cases, a family member or other party can supervise. If so, he or she must file an affidavit taking responsibility for supervision.
An abusers parental rights may be terminated if the court rules that it’s in the child’s best interest if they no longer have a relationship. The parent is deemed unfit and the judge determines that abuse is likely.
Domestic violence is a serious issue; children are the most vulnerable victims, and the laws are designed to protect them from further harm. Contact Kiswani Law for help ensuring your children’s safety.