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How incidents of abuse can affect child custody cases

A parent in Massachusetts who has been violent towards their child or the other parent usually cannot get custody of their child. However, this rule is not set in stone, and a parent may be able to get child custody or visitation after an act of violence if they can show that it is in the best interests of the child.

When judges are making custody decisions, they will usually look into whether there was a serious incident of abuse or a pattern of abuse in a household. If either of these two things exists, it is assumed that placing a child with the abusive parent is not in the child's best interests. The parent accused of abuse may have an opportunity to prove that the judge's assumption is wrong and argue that the child should be placed in their custody.

In child custody cases, abuse is when a parent inflicts or attempts to inflict bodily injury on one of their family members. Making another person believe that bodily injury is imminent is also considered to be abuse. A serious incident of abuse is when a parent threatens, inflicts or attempts to inflict serious bodily injury on the other parent or their child.

There are some cases where a father could be denied custody and visitation rights as a result of false allegations of abuse. In other cases, a father might be fighting to obtain custody rights after going through a divorce with a mother who was abusive. Many fathers who are involved in one of these kinds of situations choose to consult with a family law attorney so that their position can be fully advocated.

Source: WomensLaw.org, "Custody", accessed on Jan. 26, 2015

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