Leaving an abusive ex can be a difficult and stressful process. You may need to ask the court to help protect you through a Domestic Violence Order of Protection. You may also have to provide documentation of abuse in order to protect your children.
Abuse by a parent is one of the circumstances that might convince the Washington family courts to award one parent sole custody. However, even if that is how the courts rule in your divorce, your ex may still try to demand time with the children. Can someone with a history of abuse legally get visitation after a divorce?
The courts might order supervised visitation
Having an abusive ex is hard for you, but losing out on a parental relationship can be devastating for children. The courts will have to try to balance the desire to protect children with upholding their best interests via supporting both parental relationships.
Particularly in cases where the abuse was between spouses and not directed at the children, the courts may decide to give a parent accused of abuse an opportunity to remain present in the lives of their children. Supervised visitation can be a way for the courts to ensure the safety of the kids while also allowing someone accused of abuse the opportunities to improve their parenting skills.
During supervised visitation, a paid supervisor will monitor the interactions between parents and children to ensure safety. Typically, the parents will have to pay for these services, which can quickly become very expensive.
How do the courts protect children from abusive homes?
In cases of substantiated abuse, the courts may appoint a guardian ad litem to advocate for the children. This individual may be present for some supervised visitations in order to evaluate the relationship the children have with the parent accused of abuse and the parent’s behavior during the visitation.
In some cases, the courts may also mandate therapy, parenting classes or other services for a parent accused of abuse who wants to continue to be a part of their children’s life. If the abusive parent won’t comply with these requirements, the courts may not increase their parental rights for the foreseeable future and may even limit their right to visitation.