Domestic violence is a crime punishable under North Carolina criminal statutes; however, it is also the subject of many custody disputes in family court. At times, domestic violence is the fuel that continues to drive the most bitterly contested custody fights in North Carolina and in states across America. North Carolina criminal courts and family courts take a harsh view on domestic violence. Our lawmakers have created laws that ensure the protection of spouses and children who are victims of domestic violence.
How Does North Carolina Define Domestic Violence?
Under N.C.G.S. §Chapter 50B, domestic violence is defined as “the commission of one or more of the following acts upon an aggrieved party or upon a minor child residing with or in the custody of the aggrieved party by a person with whom the aggrieved party has or has had a personal relationship.”
The acts described in the statute include but are not limited to:
Attempting to cause bodily harm;
Intentionally causing bodily harm;
Placing the victim in fear of imminent serious bodily injury or continued harassment that causes substantial emotional distress; and,
Committing any sexual offense as defined in N.C.G.S. §14-27.2 through §14-27.7.
How Does Domestic Violence Effect Custody And Relocating?
The overriding factor that judges use when deciding custody issues is the best interest of the child. According to N.C.G.S. §50-13.2, “An order for custody of a minor child entered pursuant to this section shall award the custody of such child to such person, agency, organization or institution as will best promote the interest and welfare of the child. In making the determination, the court shall consider all relevant factors including acts of domestic violence between the parties, the safety of the child, and the safety of either party from domestic violence by the other party and shall make findings accordingly.”
In some cases, protecting the child’s best interest may include allowing the parent with custody of the child to relocate for his or her safety as well as the safety of the child. Domestic violence affects children in ways that we are still beginning to define and understand. Even if the violence is not directed at the child, being a witness to domestic violence and living in a home where domestic violence is present can cause great emotional harm to the child that carries well into adulthood. Therefore, removing the child from the abuser is often in the best interest of the child.
Unfortunately, simply removing the abuser from the home is sometimes not sufficient to protect the victim and the child. Some abusers continue to harass and emotionally abuse their ex-spouse and/or child from outside the home. In these cases, allowing the custodial parent to relocate with the child to another geographical location offers a “safe haven” for the family to begin the healing process.
Each custody case will be different. Our family law attorneys have extensive experience in domestic violence cases as it relates to the family court and custody issues. If you are a victim of domestic violence, we urge you to contact our office for a confidential consultation with one of our attorneys. There is help for you and your child – you do not need to suffer domestic violence any longer.
Contact an Experienced Jacksonville Family Law Attorney
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When you have legal problems, you need an experienced legal professional in your corner. No matter the case, you should have an attorney working for you who knows the law and who has the experience to get results. We represent clients throughout Duplin County, Onslow County and the surrounding communities. Call our office at (910) 405-8459 or contact us online today for a free case evaluation.