It is an unfortunate reality that both custody and domestic violence are frequently litigated issues. Parents will go to extreme lengths to make sure that their children are safe and that a final custody order provides for what is in the child’s best interests. When domestic violence is also involved in a relationship, the inquiry regarding visitation or custody can become more complicated. A court will make a decision as to what is best for a child based upon the factors set out in N.J.S.A. 9:2-4(c). The two relevant factors here in that list is whether there is a history of domestic violence and the safety of the child or parent from physical abuse by the other parent. Other related factors include whether there is a pending criminal case against one of the parents and whether there is physical evidence of the abuse.
Clearly, domestic violence can play a major role in a final custody or visitation order. In a case called Kinsella v. Kinsella, the New Jersey Supreme Court had to deal with a case involving extensive allegations of domestic violence. In that case, the wife made many allegations of domestic violence, which included that the husband had kicked, dragged, and punched her, as well as throwing things at her and cutting her. The wife alleged that the husband had put her in a state of constant fear, and had tried to convince her to commit suicide on multiple occasions. The wife also made extensive allegations of violence committed by the husband against the parties’ children. The wife alleged that the husband had physical abused their infant son on more than one occasion, and once sat on their five-year-old daughter to make her stop crying. The husband responded that although he admitted to a few of the incidents of domestic violence, the wife had intentionally exaggerated the descriptions of the abuse in order to gain sole custody of the children. The New Jersey Supreme Court applied the list of best interest factors and decided that the children would not be safe in a home with the father, considering his long history of egregious violent behavior.Domestic violence is a terrible situation that no one should have to keep their children in. We have experience in helping our clients with these terrible cases. Contact us today at (732) 529-6937 for an appointment.