A family court judge deciding a custody matter is responsible for making decisions that they believe are in the child’s best interests. A judge will often take into account a child’s age and the bond that the parent and child share in rendering decisions. They may consider a parent’s housing situation, financial means and availability of free time as well. Also important is whether either parent has a history of violence or abuse.
Children who have been raised in homes where they and/or a loved one have been abused are bound to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression. A parent who may have fallen victim to such aggression may have a low self-esteem, experience mood swings or nightmares or have difficulty standing up for their rights when it’s necessary.
While a judge may be unwilling to place a child with a parent that has been the perpetrator of violent acts against the other, they may not feel completely comfortable leaving the child in the victim’s care either. Whether or not they’re willing to do so will depend on how badly it appears that the abuse has affected you.
One reason that the American Bar Association (ABA) outlines that family law judges often rule against parental victims and their petitions for custody is that they present themselves poorly in court. This may include being too emotional, speaking out-of-turn, coming in disheveled, seeming disorganized or having a track record of making irrational statements or decisions. They often attempt to represent themselves, too.
When someone is abused, the effects of having undergone such trauma rarely stops with the victim that the aggression was actually taken out on. The abuse a parent endures may impact how mentally and emotionally present that they are in interacting with their child, which may, in turn, impact their ability to develop as they should.
Parent victims who are able to show that they’ve taken the necessary steps to begin healing from the trauma that they’ve endured may be able to make a case as to why they should retain custody of their child. Clients who are represented by an experienced San Jose child custody and visitation attorney will be best prepared to make their case in court for why it’s best that their son or daughter remains with them.