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Legal Information: Virginia

Custody

Updated: 
December 4, 2020

Can a parent who committed violence get custody?

When making a decision about custody or visitation, the judge must take into account any history of family abuse, sexual abuse, child abuse, or an act of violence, force, or threat that has taken place within the past ten years.1

However, this does not mean that the parent who committed abuse will automatically be denied custody; it just means that the judge has to consider the abuse in addition to other relevant facts. If the judge does decide to grant visitation to the abuser, you can ask that the visitation be supervised in order to better protect yourself and your child.

There are certain circumstances, however, under which a parent who committed violence can be denied the chance to ask for custody or visitation. You can ask the judge to prohibit the abuser from filing a petition for custody or visitation for up to ten years if the judge finds that:

  1. it is in the best interests of the child; and
  2. one of the following is true:
    • the abuser was convicted of committing one of the following crimes against his/her child, any child who lived with him/her at the time of the crime, or against the child’s other parent:
      1. murder or attempted murder;
      2. voluntary manslaughter or attempted voluntary manslaughter; or
      3. conspiracy or solicitation to commit any of the above crimes offense; or
    • the abuser was convicted of committing one of the following crimes against his/her child or a child who lived with him/her at the time of the crime:
      1. felony assault that resulted in serious physical injury; or
      2. felony sexual assault.2

1 Va. Code § 20-124.3(9)
2 Va. Code § 20-124.2(E)