Restraining orders are commonly taken up against the non-custodial parent, and the situation is usually remedied by having supervised visitation. But when the custodial parent unleashes violence on the non-custodial parent, the solutions become more complicated.
Many such parents wonder what might happen to their children, especially when they take a restraining order against the parent that lives with the children. But anything is possible, especially when it is beneficial to the minors. And at Pacific Northwest family law firm, we can advise you on the steps to take towards exploring your options as a parent that wants to keep their young ones safe.
What are the Effects of Domestic Violence on Kids?
Violence on children or the children’s other parent can affect children emotionally and mentally. A child witnessing one of their parents enduring emotional or physical abuse can affect them significantly.
The courts in Washington State vouch for the well-being of children below 18 years and will do anything to protect them from growing up in such environments. Domestic violence attorneys in Tri-Cities can help you take the right steps towards keeping your children sane and safe.
How Do I File for Modifications to the Parenting Plan Because of Violence?
Either the primary custodian or the non-primary custodian can request to modify the custody arrangement in Washington State. Domestic violence attorneys in Tri-cities can help you file a “Petition for Modification of Adjustment of Child Custody Decree/ Parenting Plan.” Your petition should specify the custody changes you are seeking and how a modification will benefit the kids.
An “adequate cause hearing” is a requirement before a modification case in Washington. Both you and the primary custodian have to attend this hearing, and you have to provide sufficient reason to have the modifications. You can provide evidence to support your request because the court favors custodial continuity unless the change is really necessary.
If the court is not convinced that changes would be necessary, it might throw out your request. But if the reasons are sufficient, the judge will set a hearing date. Your case might be considered if:
- The other parent has violated court orders, at least twice in a period of three years
- Changing custody would be better and more favorable for the minors
- The current home environment isn’t fit for the young ones’ emotional, mental, and physical health
- The child will be integrated into your family
- The parents agree to the modification
Is Mediation an Option?
Mediation is a great way to modify a parenting plan that is no longer favorable or appropriate. The process can be more complex when the co-parents have a history of domestic violence or the existence of a restraining order. But it can still be done in a way that both parties are comfortable throughout the process.
Mediators are usually trained to understand victims and perpetrators of domestic violence, and they know how to work with them. It is critical to tell the mediator if you are worried about your safety or that of your children, for them to make appropriate arrangements. You might decide to meet the mediator separately or bring a support person during the sessions.
Can the Other Parent’s Parenting Rights be Terminated if I File a Restraining Order?
Termination of parental rights is permanent, and even if the primary custodian improves their behavior, their rights might not be restored. However, the judge can only terminate these rights in extreme cases of abuse. Instances that can make them lose their rights as parents include:
- Attempted murder on the other parent
- Felony assault on the other parent, causing them serious bodily harm
Can the Parent Lose Custody for Being Violent on Me?
An incidence of domestic violence will not automatically rob the other parent of their custodial rights. The court considers several other factors before deciding whether the current custodian parent is unfit to stay with the kids. Domestic violence attorneys in Tri-Cities can help you investigate the children’s living and schooling situations.
If you add pieces of evidence showing that the custodian parent is physically or emotionally abusive to the kids, the chances of them losing their custodial rights will be higher. Instead, they might be accorded supervised visitation rights until they change their behavior, get off substance use, or complete anger management classes. In deciding whether custody should be taken away, the judge might consider:
- Whether the violence affects the children
- Whether they continue to pose a danger against you or the children
- Frequency and severity of the violence
- Whether they have a pending criminal case
- Whether there is evidence of the violence, for example, photographs
- The police reports documenting the abuse
What Happens When the Abusive Parent Retains Custody?
Sometimes, the judge can see it fit for the abusive parent to retain custody of the kids. If they provide a proper living environment for the children, and the instance of domestic violence on you wasn’t very serious, they could remain the primary custodian. However, the court might put measures that ensure your safety and prevent the kids from witnessing violence.
The judge might establish a parenting plan where a third party picks and drops the children for and from visitation. Alternatively, the exchange could happen at a police station where safety is guaranteed. Your Tri-Cities family lawyer can ensure that you get the most favorable form of arrangement, one that will enhance your relationship with your kids.
Family Lawyers Fighting for Your Family’s Welfare
The kind of adults your kids might grow into depends on the kind of environment they grow up in. Children raised in unstable environments rarely grow up as they should. So, you are right to worry about their well-being.
The State of Washington also cares about children and would support a petition to put the kids in the best environment. You just have to explore the suitable options. Our family law firm knows that no single family law case is similar to another, and will never use the “one-size-fits-all approach.” Call us today at 509-572-3700 to discuss your situation.