Hafemeyer Law

Domestic Violence and the Best Interest Factors

November 1 brought to a close national domestic violence awareness month. The month of October is a time when the country focuses on the lasting impact violence can have on many lives, but the need to examine the impact of violence on individuals in a family remains paramount throughout the year.  Family court judges and attorneys often consider the impact of domestic violence situations on the children in dissolution matters.

When a couple with a child or children files for dissolution there are 13 factors that the courts look at to determine the best custody situation for each particular family. These factors include:

  1. the parent’s wishes
  2. the child’s preference
  3. primary caregiver for the child/ren
  4. the relationship between the parent and the child
  5. how the parent child relationship impacts the child
  6. child’s adjustment to home, school and community
  7. the child’s current living conditions and how long the child has been in a stable, satisfactory environment
  8. the permanence of the existing or proposed home
  9. mental and physical health of the parents
  10. capacity of the parents to love and guide the child and raise the child in the child’s culture or religion
  11. the cultural background of the child
  12. effect of domestic abuse on the child from a parent or other family member who has lived with the child
  13. ability of each parent to encourage continued contact with the non-custodial parent

Minnesota statute shows that there is a “reputable presumption against, sole, joint legal or joint physical custody if an incident of domestic violence has occurred between the parents.”  The law defines domestic violence as a violent act committed against a family or household member by a family or household member that involves (1) physical harm, (2)
infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, or assault, or (3) terroristic threats, criminal sexual conduct, or interference with an emergency call.

It is important that individuals who have been a victim of domestic violence seek help from law enforcement and counselors to ensure their safety. Family law attorneys are also a great resource to assist in the safety and well-being of children when a parent has been subjected to violence in the home.

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