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What are my custody options if I am a victim of violence?

As is the case with other states, Virginia has laws on the books designed to protect victims of domestic violence who are involved in child custody and parenting time disputes.

The law allows judges in this state may consider any history of domestic abuse that happened within the previous 10 years.

The law is broader than one might suppose. The history of abuse can include actual criminal convictions, but an arrest or criminal charge is not necessary for bringing up domestic violence allegations in a child custody case.

Likewise, domestic violence can be brought up in a proceeding even if the child did not actually witness the alleged actions.

If a judge finds that there is a history of domestic violence, the judge is allowed to excuse the other parent if he withheld visits from the perpetrator

Parents with a background of domestic violence can get parenting time

However, it is important for people in Arlington and the other Northern Virginia suburbs to remember that Virginia courts do not automatically deny parents who are abusive from getting custody or parenting time.

A court may limit access to supervised visits and impose other restrictions. The court may also agree not to give an abuser decision-making authority. Ultimately, whether a person has committed violence is just one factor among many that family court judges consider.

As a result, a victim of domestic violence who wants to protect her children will need to be sure to compile a well-investigated argument that is supported by both the law and the facts. They may want to have an experienced attorney assist with this process.