Can a parent who committed violence get custody?
A judge is supposed to look at any history of domestic or family abuse when considering who gets custody. If the judge determines that there has been domestic abuse, the judge is supposed to assume that it is not in the child’s best interest for the abuser to get sole or joint custody.1 The judge should assume that it is in the best interest of the child to live with the non-abusive parent.2 However, the abuser can still try to show the judge that it would be in the child’s best interests to give him/her custody. If the judge is convinced, s/he may give the abuser sole and/or joint custody of the child.
The judge must also take into account:
- what impact, if any, the domestic violence had on the child;1
- the safety and well-being of the child and of the parent who is the victim of family or domestic violence; and
- the abuser's history of causing physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or causing reasonable fear of physical harm, bodily injury, or assault, to another person.3
Also, the law states that if a parent is absent or relocates because of an act of domestic or family violence by the other parent, the judge cannot use this against the parent in making a decision as to custody or visitation.4
Note: The court can also refer, but cannot order, an adult who is a victim of family or domestic violence to attend counseling relating to the victim's status or behavior as a victim, individually or with the abuser as a condition of receiving custody of a child or as a condition of visitation.5
1 Alabama Code § 30-3-131
2 Alabama Code § 30-3-133
3 Alabama Code § 30-3-132(a)
4 Alabama Code § 30-3-132(b)
5 Alabama Code § 30-3-135