Although child visitation laws give both parents the right to spend time with their child, there are some circumstances that it is not in the best interest of the child to spend time with both parents. Visitation guidelines exist to protect children, and if their non-custodial parent was abusive, whether to the spouse or the children, then they may be denied visitation rights altogether.
One option may be requesting that the non-custodial abusive spouse be allowed only supervised visits as per visitation guidelines. Visitation laws may assume that supervised visitation is best to protect the safety of both the custodial parent and the child. A good idea is for a parent to keep a journal of the things the non-custodial parent has said and threats they have made.
It’s also smart to save any threatening or mean letters, phone messages or email. These will come in handy in court when the judge is looking over the custody case. The judge may consider the non-custodial parents a threat to their ex-spouse and their children. If that is the case, according to standard visitation laws the abusive spouse may lose visitation completely.
Leaving an abusive spouse is difficult by itself and when there are children involved, it becomes even harder. Standard visitation guidelines take many things into consideration, including whether or not the abused spouse has a restraining order against the abusive spouse. However, visitation laws will not necessarily deny a non-custodial parent visitation just because they have an abusive history. Since visitation guidelines have to take a child’s best interest as the main factor when devising a visitation schedule, the courts will determine if an abusive history should stop the abusive spouse from having any visitation rights.
Although most people consider emotional abuse to be almost as bad as physical abuse, many courts will not take it as seriously as physical abuse, much to a parent’s dismay. Visitation laws unfortunately do not give high priority to emotional abuse when it comes to determining custody orders since it may be difficult to prove. If the courts to determine that the abusive spouse is entitled to visitation, the other spouse must keep their safety in mind. Possibilities may include having a third party pick up and drop off the child as well as getting a restraining order to stop the abusive spouse from coming to the house.
There is no doubt that it may be very difficult to have one’s child visit with an abusive spouse. However, as always a parent must keep the best interest of the child in mind. Although some visitation guidelines may allow the abusive spouse’s visits to be cut off, finding a way to keep oneself and the children safe is the number one priority.