A child’s best interests drive child custody and visitation determinations. While you might be able to negotiate an arrangement that works for you, your child, and your child’s other parent, sometimes this simply isn’t possible. In these instances, you’ll have to argue the matter in court where a judge will issue an ultimate decision. When that happens, you need to be prepared to present evidence as to why your proposed child custody or visitation arrangement furthers your child’s best interests.
This means highlighting important issues, such as a child’s exposure to domestic violence. Exposure to domestic violence can take an enormous toll on a child, affecting him or her in physical, emotional, and behavioral ways.
- Physically: Children tend to manifest stress in physical ways. As a result, a child who is exposed to domestic violence may develop chronic headaches and stomach aches, and they may experience an increase in nightmares and bedwetting.
- Mentally and Emotionally: Domestic violence exposure can cause children to develop anxiety, fear, and depression, as well as other mental health issues like post-traumatic stress disorders. They also tend to develop a profound sense of guilt over their inability to prevent violence from occurring in the home.
- Behaviorally: Children who are exposed to domestic violence may become more aggress, withdrawn, or inconsolable. Their behaviors may regress, too, including thumb-sucking and bedwetting. Older children might turn to risky behaviors that affect their schooling, friendships, and even their freedom.
There are a whole host of other issues that domestic violence can create for children. It can increase their risk of being abused, devastate their ability to develop healthy relationships, and destroy their relationship with their parent or parents. So, if you think that your child has been exposed to domestic violence and you want to protect him or her, then you need to be prepared to address the issue in your custody case. If you want help with aggressively doing so, then you might want the assistance of an experienced family law attorney.