How do spousal abuse, orders of protection, etc., affect custody and support judgments?


Domestic violence is a factor that a judge can take into consideration in deciding a custody matter. If a child is harmed physically, mentally or psychologically by domestic violence, the offender could have extremely limited contact with the child going forward. Depending on the facts and circumstances, a court may order evaluations for mental health or substance abuse issues.  Information obtained in this process and the opinions of service providers may impact the custodial arrangements.  An order of protection will contain terms limiting behavior and contact between the parties and children. An order of protection may set forth a schedule of visitation, if necessary.

A judicial finding of spousal abuse has no impact on the terms of a support judgment or order.  Legally, they are two separate issues (there is an exception for very extreme cases). However, these two issues are very much intertwined in the lives of people who experience abuse. It is common in cases where spousal abuse has occurred, that support can be very difficult to enforce and collect.  It is legally recognized that an intentional failure to provide support is a form of abuse.

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