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Seeking sole custody for your child’s safety due to abuse

On Behalf of | Feb 21, 2024 | Family Law |

Whether married or not, the safety and well-being of her children are a mother’s top priorities. She may seek sole custody if she has concerns about the child’s father being abusive.

Everyone involved likely faces significant stress, but the mother has options that can benefit her child.

Types of abuse

Various forms of abuse can disqualify a parent from having custody of their child. Physical abuse involves causing harm or injury through hitting, punching or other violent acts.

Emotional abuse includes manipulation, verbal insults or threats that cause psychological harm. Sexual abuse involves any inappropriate sexual behavior toward the child.

Neglect occurs when a parent fails to provide for the child’s basic needs, such as food, shelter or medical care. Substance abuse, whether drugs or alcohol, can also impair a parent’s ability to care for their child safely.

All these forms of abuse can endanger the child’s well-being. The mother’s fear that the father may harm their child is understandable given any of these abusive behaviors.

What courts consider

In New York, courts prioritize the safety and well-being of the child when determining custody arrangements. If one parent is abusive, the courts may grant sole custody to the non-abusive parent.

Keeping records of incidents, such as dates, times and descriptions, provides evidence to support her claims. Police reports, medical records and witness testimony can strengthen the mother’s case for sole custody. Photos or videos that show evidence of abuse are particularly compelling.

Exploring protective measures

In cases of domestic violence, the mother can explore obtaining a restraining order or protective order against the father. These legal measures can help ensure the safety of both herself and her child by restricting the father’s contact and proximity.

Co-parenting alternatives

If possible, the mother may consider alternatives to sole custody that prioritize the child’s safety while allowing for continued involvement of both parents. Supervised visitation or co-parenting counseling can be options to explore under the guidance of professionals.

Effects on children

This situation can have profound adverse effects on children. They may experience emotional distress, anxiety or depression due to the upheaval in their lives. Witnessing abuse or conflict between their parents can lead to feelings of fear and insecurity.

Children may struggle academically or socially as they cope with the trauma of the situation. Additionally, they may develop trust issues or difficulty forming healthy relationships in the future. The stress and uncertainty of the custody dispute and abuse can leave lasting psychological scars on children, impacting their well-being into adulthood.

The child’s safety is top priority

Abusive situations are not good for children. If the mother having sole custody of her children is in their best interests, courts may grant it.