In this week's video, I answer a question from a viewer about domestic violence that is committed in a DIFFERENT relationship than the one where child custody is being litigated.
One of my viewers is going through a divorce and her soon to be ex-husband has a 15-year old child from a different relationship. And then she and her soon to be ex-husband have a younger child together.
The soon to be ex-husband got into an altercation with his 15-year old daughter from the other relationship which resulted in some marks on her. What happened then was child protective services from her state got involved and stated that there may be evidence of child abuse taking place between the husband and his 15-year old daughter.
So my viewer wants to know is can she use that information as evidence in her own divorce and custody case regarding the younger child that she and her husband share.
The answer is yes it can and it goes back to the Best Interest of the Child Factors that I talk about in so many of my videos.
One of the best interest factors is whether there is domestic violence in the relationship or whether there has been domestic violence period. If any person has committed an act of domestic violence and that has been substantiated in any way by a Department of Child Safety finding or a conviction then you can definitely bring that into your case to show that they may have the propensity for domestic violence or may have anger issues that need to be addressed.
The court is required to take into account any factors that may affect the best interest of the child in the current case
So if the parent has some issues with controlling his or her temper or has been physical with an ex-girlfriend or an ex-spouse or a child from a different relationship, those are things the judge should know.
Now there is a caveat in that there are some cases where people have been involved in domestic violence tussles and those tussles have happened 15-20 years ago or those tussles resulted in diversion classes , treatment or getting the record expunged so they avoided conviction.
Keep in mind before you bring up past acts of domestic violence between the other parent and another person, keep in mind if those acts happened a long time ago and the parent has not had any acts happen since then, the acts that you bring up that happened a long time ago may not carry that much weight or they may not be that relevant.
There are times when someone makes an error in judgment but it never happens again. Then there are the cases where the person is a habitual abuser or someone who has committed domestic violence on more than one occasion.
So you have to use your best judgment when deciding to bring in evidence of domestic violence that happened a long time ago or if the person received treatment for it and had their conviction set aside.