Domestic violence charges can impact all aspects of your professional, personal, and public life. If you have children, though, the impact could be felt immediately for both you and your kids.
Under the North Carolina statutes, domestic violence is defined as having a personal relationship with someone and attempting to cause or intentionally causing bodily injury or placing that person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury or continued harassment that rises to such a level as to inflict substantial emotional distress.
If you are accused of domestic violence and you also have a child custody order in place, your custody could potentially be impacted. Let’s look at how a domestic violence charge might affect your custody arrangement here in North Carolina.
North Carolina Child Custody Order Basics
When you’re going through a divorce and you have children, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse will have to determine a custody arrangement. The North Carolina courts decide on child custody by what “will best promote the interest and welfare of the child.”
The child’s safety and security, as well as their physical and emotional needs, will all be considered when trying to figure out which parent will have physical custody – where the child will live – and legal custody – who will make decisions on behalf of the child.
If a parent has a history of domestic violence prior to establishing a custody arrangement, that parent isn’t automatically excluded from having custody, but he or she might not be able to have sole custody. Depending on the parent’s history, their custody might be limited, supervised, or – in extreme cases – terminated.
Protective Orders and Child Custody
If you’ve been accused of domestic violence in our state and the judge grants the other party a protective order, you will have to abide by any number of conditions a judge includes in the protective order.
The first condition would obviously keep someone from committing further acts of domestic violence, but other conditions might include:
- Finding another place to live away from your spouse and children;
- Providing alternate housing for your spouse or children;
- Not possessing or purchasing a firearm;
- Attending and completing an abuser treatment program;
- Awarding temporary custody of children to another party; and
- Establishing temporary visitation rights.
These conditions, along with any others that the judge deems necessary, will have to be followed until the case is resolved.
So your current family and custody situation can be disrupted quite a bit by a domestic violence charge and protective order. Regardless of whether you already have a custody agreement or not, domestic violence charges could cost you quality time with your children.
Even though the protective order is only in effect until the case has been completed, a domestic violence conviction could make some of the conditions – particularly regarding child custody – more permanent going forward.
For example, you might be granted supervised visitation with your children while your domestic violence case goes to court, but if you’re found guilty, you might be limited to only having supervised visitation in the future.
If you’ve been accused of domestic violence and you’re worried about how the charges will affect the custody of your children, reach out to an experienced North Carolina domestic violence attorney to get the best defense and to make sure you don’t lose time with your children.
About the Author:
Jan Elliott Pritchett is Managing Partner at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett and one of North Carolina’s top rated criminal defense attorneys. With a practice dedicated 100% to litigation, Mr. Pritchett protects the legal rights of clients who have been charged in federal and state criminal matters, as well as DUI/DWi, motor vehicle accidents, personal injury, and traffic violations. In practice since 1995, Mr. Pritchett has earned a reputation as a highly talented and fearless lawyer, being listed among the state’s “Legal Elite” and recognized as one of the Top 100 DWI Lawyers in North Carolina by the National Advocacy of DUI Defense. He currently serves as the Co-Chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Legal Specialization, Criminal Law Specialty, and Vice-Chairman of the North Carolina Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section.