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Domestic violence, custody and the best interest of children

Myths abound when it comes to child custody cases in North Carolina and throughout the U.S. One common misconception is that a parent deemed to have committed domestic violence will automatically be precluded from obtaining child custody.

The legal reality is that child custody laws do not completely block an alleged abuser from gaining custody. If the abused parent suffers from some form of post-traumatic stress, a relative or even the abusive spouse could get custody.

In the U.S., a judge considering a child custody issue, even when domestic violence is involved, applies what is known as the "best interest of the child" standard. Pursuant to this standard, a judge not only looks at allegations of abuse when considering child custody issues, but an array of other factors as well.

Another prevailing myth associated with domestic abuse and child custody is that abusive conduct ends once spouses physically separate. The fact is that once parents separate, a different type of abusive conduct could commence. For example, an abusive parent could use a child as a tool to manipulate or control the other parent.

In many cases, this type of abuse flies somewhat under the radar. It can be more difficult to prove when the targeted parent desires to take action to bring it to an end.

A parent involved in a custody dispute may want to consider retaining legal counsel. A child custody attorney might be able to explain the intricacies of applicable legal standards regarding these issues. In addition, a lawyer can assist in establishing parenting time, or visitation for a non-custodial parent.

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