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How does domestic violence affect child custody?


Domestic violence can have very harmful effects on Illinois families. Beyond the physical pain and injuries it causes, the emotional effects can last a lifetime. Often domestic violence is passed on to the next generation. Due to the devastating consequences, the Illinois Legislature and courts have made numerous attempts to protect the victims.

A victim's first priority is to get out of the abusive situation and get their children out of it. Orders for protection or other restraining orders can help keep an abuser away from the victims. The law also makes it difficult for abusers to have custody or even visitation rights with their children.

One of the factors used when determining custody is whether there has been domestic violence in the home. Under Illinois law there is a presumption that it is in the best interest of a child to have maximum involvement of both parents in the child's life. However, if there is domestic violence in the home that presumption disappears. The abuser may also not be allowed to have access to the children's school and medical records.

Domestic violence also effects visitation. Generally a parent, even if they are not granted any custodial rights, has the right to visitation with their child. However, the court can deny visitation if the court finds that visitation would seriously harm the child. If there has been domestic violence towards the child, the court may deny the abusing parent visitation with the child, or allow only supervised visitation.

Unfortunately, many families in Illinois have domestic violence in the home. When the victim wants to leave the relationship, the law provides them certain rights in custody determinations and visitation. Experienced attorneys understand how domestic violence affects a family and may be able to help one through the legal process.

Source: Illinois General Assembly, "750 ILCS 5/Part IV" accessed on March 16, 2015

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