Divorce and Visitation with an Abusive Spouse
Domestic violence is a major issue that plagues unhealthy relationships, and in extreme circumstances, can even become life threatening. Not every spouse is able to break the cycle and summon the courage to leave their partner, but for those who do, it is not always a clean break. Even though one spouse may have been physically, sexually, emotionally, mentally abusive, they still may retain visitation rights to their children during and after divorce.
Both parents have a right to have access to their children, even if there is an accusation of abuse, or if it has been determined that the parent has acted in an abusive matter to his or her spouse or children. In a situation such as this, the accused parent will not be able to have extended and unsupervised visitation with his or her children. In very extreme cases, unsupervised visits pose a threat of abuse or kidnapping, and a judge will not allow this opportunity to arise. Family members or other neutral third parties are often used to supervise visits between a parent and their children. Either the court will order a particular person or agency to supervise, or both parents will agree on the appropriate person. Supervised visits can be done in a police station, therapist’s office, or other public locations such as shopping centers or restaurants, as well as the parent’s home.
Divorces that involve threatening or abusive behavior can often result in Temporary or Final Orders of Protection. These orders prevent both parents from having any form of contact with the other, and special arrangements must be made to allow child visitation to take place. A third party can act as the point of contact between both parents, and can assist in arranging visits, so neither party will violate the Order of Protection by communicating. To make things easier and less stressful, this third party can be the same person who supervises visits between one parent and their children. It is also possible to arrange for particular pick-up and drop-off stipulations for those who are bound by the confines of an Order of Protection. For instance, parents can agree to forego the “no contact” clause in an Order of Protection to allow for in-person exchanges in public locations such as shopping center parking lots or police precincts. This practice is very common.
Restricted and supervised visitation will be ordered on a temporary basis, and it is possible for the affected parent to eventually be granted full visitation rights. However, before this can happen, they must prove to a judge that they have taken appropriate steps to change their offending behavior. This can include rehab for substance abuse, as well as earning a Certificate of Completion in anger management or parenting classes. A judge will often order the offending parent to complete these programs or courses before they will consider modifying a visitation order. Until these requirements are met, alternative forms of visitation, such as virtual visitation, are perfectly viable options.
Emotions can run high during contested divorce proceedings, and some parties may think that the court is biased against them. This is not true. A judge will only make custody and visitation decisions based on what is in the best interest of the child. As unfortunate as it is, sometimes it is in a child’s best interest to have supervised visits with one of their parents, or, no visitation at all.
For more information on divorce and child custody, especially if there is a history of violence within the family, contact Brian D. Perskin & Associates, P.C. for a free, no obligation consultation. With over 50 years of combined experience, Brian and his team of qualified attorneys are well versed in all aspects of New York matrimonial and family law. The top rated firm practices extreme discretion in all cases, regardless of the severity. Let their experience work for you, and contact Brian D. Perskin & Associates, P.C. today!
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