Effect of Domestic Violence on Child Custody and Visitation

In matters affecting children, charges of domestic violence are taken very seriously by the courts. Mandatory reporting of child abuse is required by doctors and school personnel, and signs of even the impact of domestic violence on children could seriously jeopardize parental rights to custody and visitation.

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Impact of Domestic Violence on Children and Child Custody Proceedings

Under Chapter 9 of the Georgia Domestic Relations Code , the courts aim for parenting plans in which both parties share in the responsibility of caring for and raising their children in custody proceedings, assuming that an act of violence has not been committed on the child or children. The best interests of the child are the primary concern of the court in these matters, and evidence or allegations of domestic violence or child abuse is a very serious matter. As a result, the court could order an investigation into the claim by the appropriate family and children social services agency before deciding custody and placement arrangements. In doing so, the court may also order the following:

  • That the parent against whom the allegations were made to pay for the investigation;
  • That the person who conducts the investigation issue a written report directly to the judge;
  • That the investigator appears and testifies in court as to their findings, giving both parents the right to cross examine.

Under the Family Violence Act , those suspected of domestic violence involving children may be required to either refrain from all contact with the child or to engage in supervised visitation while attending mandatory counseling.

If a divorce is filed after or concurrently with a protective order then the ruling of the Superior Court in which the divorce is filed reserves the right to modify any custody and visitation ruling made in conjunction with the protective order.