Can a parent who committed violence get custody or visitation?
Under Alaska law, there is a presumption against giving sole or shared legal or physical custody to a parent who has committed one act of domestic violence involving serious physical injury or more than one act of domestic violence (with or without causing injury). However, the abusive parent can overcome this presumption by showing that he has completed a batterers’ intervention program, does not abuse drugs/alcohol, and that the best interests of the child require the abusive parent’s participation due to the other parent being absent, mentally ill, or a drug user.1
If the presumption is not overcome, then the court should allow only supervised visitation by that parent with the child, conditioned on that parent’s participating in and successfully completing an intervention program for batterers, and a parenting education program, where reasonably available. However, the court may allow unsupervised visitation if it is proven that the violent parent has completed a substance abuse treatment program (if appropriate), is not abusing alcohol or drugs, does not pose a danger of mental or physical harm to the child, and unsupervised visitation is in the child’s best interests.2
If there has only been one act of domestic violence that did not involve serious physical injury, it could still be a factor for the judge to consider but the abusive parent might be able to get custody.
1Alaska Statute § 25.24.150(h)
2 Alaska Statute § 25.24.150(j); see § 25.20.061 for more restrictions that can be placed on the parent with visitation