Accusations of domestic violence can have a large impact on someone’s life. One of the biggest consequences of an accusation of domestic violence is the impact it has on claims for child custody and visitation. Under North Carolina Statute § 50B-1, domestic violence involves committing one of the following acts upon a person where there is or was a personal relationship:

  • Attempting to cause bodily injury, or intentionally causing bodily injury;
  • Placing another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury or continued harassment; or
  • Sex-related offenses, including sexual battery or rape.

A personal relationship is defined in domestic violence cases as:

  1. Current or former spouses;
  2. Persons of the opposite sex who live together or have lived together;
  3. Related as parents and children, including others acting in loco parentis to a minor child, or as grandparents and grandchildren;
  4. Have a child in common;
  5. Current or former household members; and
  6. Persons of the opposite sex who are in a dating relationship or have been in a dating relationship.

A victim of domestic violence can obtain a Domestic Violence Protective Order (“DVPO”) which may directly affect the parenting rights of either parent. The court can enter a DVPO when it is necessary to protect the minor children from acts or domestic violence or when the minor children are exposed to a substantial risk of physical or emotional injury or sexual abuse. Under the DVPO the defendant may be prohibited from contacting any minor children who are deemed to be at risk of harm or injury. The DVPO may also order the defendant to stay away from the minor children or order the minor children returned to the physical custody of the other parent. 

The court can directly establish conditions related to the temporary custody of minor children and establish temporary visitation rights. For example, the court can require a defendant to find alternative housing for his or her spouse and the minor children, evict the defendant from the former shared home, require the defendant to stay away from the minor children’s schools or any other additional prohibits or requirements the court deems necessary to protect the minor children.

When determining an award of custody or visitation rights, the court will consider a number of factors related to the children’s safety and well-being. An abusive parent may not necessarily be denied visitation, but when considering all the factors before it, the court will make a determination based on the best interests of the minor children. If the court finds the defendant has committed domestic violence, a defendant may have supervised visitation with the minor children, or their parental rights terminated.

If you or someone you know is in need of legal counseling, contact one of Hatcher Law Group’s experienced family law attorneys today.