Child Custody Factor #11: Evidence of domestic violence, sexual violence, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect.
This factor is only a factor in a portion of contested child custody cases; however, when it is relevant to a case, it is an important factor. There are many ways to present evidence to the court whether it be through testimony of witnesses, pictures of bruises and other injuries, medical medicals, professional interviews with children, surveillance with a private investigator, or another method.
Judges evaluate many factors and what may be abuse and neglect in one case, may not in in another. It would be neglect to leave a one-year child old home alone for three hours; however, it would not be neglect to leave your average seventeen-year old child home alone for three hours. Behavior such as corporal punishment that is acceptable in one culture, may not be acceptable in another culture. Judges need to place the best interests of the child first; however, divorce and paternity judges may also consider culture when considering the totality of a situation.
When many people think about child abuse, they consider often only physical abuse towards the child; however, there are other types of child abuse. It can be abusive to a child to witness their father beating their mother. Witnessing such an event can result in anxiety, depression, stress and delinquent behaviors in a child.
When you use testimony of non-expert witnesses, it is vital to ensure that the individual testifying has personal knowledge, another words witnessed the event with their own senses whether it be through sight, sound, touch or smell. There are several types of expert witnesses that can assist you with your child custody case. Expert witnesses can testify in child custody cases without personal knowledge. The expert should have the proper credentials and experience to be able to formulate an opinion and testify in Court. When choosing an expert witness, take time to find out who your particular child custody judge already qualified on other cases as an expert witness so that the Court will trust your witness.
This is part of a 20 part series on factors that judges consider in contested child custody cases, to read from the beginning.