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Domestic violence allegations can impact child custody cases

Child custody cases in Kentucky can be filled with emotions and they can be even more complex when one parent makes allegations of domestic violence against the other. The Advocates for Human Rights points out that in cases where violence between parents has happened, the abusive parent may be seen by the courts as the more cooperative parent. This is not surprising since any recommendations to share custody would be the abused parent’s worst nightmare.

However, evidence indicates that this is exactly what the abuser wants. A shared parenting agreement gives the abusers the ability to maintain contact with their victim and thereby continue their harassment and abuse. In fact, it is estimated that parents who are abusive are more aggressive in seeking child custody then parents who are not.

However, courts and court professionals may not see it that way. A study done involving domestic abuse survivors, attorneys, program workers, judges and child custody evaluators sought to put together a picture of the court system and custody cases that involve allegations of abuse. The report, which was presented to the U.S. Department of Justice found that gender of the court professional, prior experience with domestic violence and knowledge all played important factors in the custody decisions made by the evaluator and the court.

For example, women were more likely than men to believe allegations of domestic violence. Even in cases where there was clear evidence, the majority of evaluators surveyed said that they would recommend some form of shared parenting. On the other hand, those who did have formal education on the subject or any previous experience were more apt to believe the allegations and make recommendations or decisions aimed at protecting the victim from further harm. 

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