Unfortunately, domestic violence is sometimes a factor in Pennsylvania divorce cases. The fact that a spouse is the victim of abuse can make negotiations more difficult. One area that is particularly impacted by domestic violence is child custody.
Research into the effects of spousal abuse on the children of these marriages continues. What is clear is that children are negatively affected by witnessing the abuse and mistreatment of a parent. In some cases, the trauma of witnessing abuse can affect a child well into adulthood.
Unfortunately, many people have misconceptions about the way domestic violence, and accusations of domestic violence, will affect custody decisions in a divorce. For example, the presence of children can give domestic abusers the ability to continue harassment and controlling behavior long after the divorce. For example, the abuser may prolong divorce proceedings or frequently, and deliberately, request changes in visitation schedules.
Another misconception is that the victim of domestic violence will necessarily win custody of the children. When judges make custody decisions, they often must take into consideration a number of factors when determining what is in the best interest of children. If the victim of abuse is unable to take care of the children, the judge may award the other parent, or perhaps a family member, custody.
Individuals who are concerned about how domestic violence may impact their divorce may benefit from speaking with a family law attorney. A lawyer may be able to review the case and make recommendations on strategies that can preserve the child's best interests while also balancing the needs of the divorcing spouse.