An abusive marriage is a tragedy for the victim, as well as any children who are involved. While many parents will consider arrangements for raising the children that allow them to work as a team, this isn’t a suitable option when there is a history of domestic violence.
In fact, child custody can be one of the most difficult points to handle during a divorce. Just the knowledge that your ex was abusing you likely has you concerned about what is going to happen to your children when they are with that parent. There are several reasons why co-parenting and shared parenting might not work in these cases.
Fear and intimidation
One of the primary reasons why shared or co-parenting situations won’t work after domestic violence is that the parent who is the victim might fear the other parent and might be intimidated. This can make it difficult to make decisions as a team when the time comes for this to happen. It might also impact the victim’s ability to ensure that the child custody agreement is complied with because they might feel too frightened to call the other parent out on failures to follow the parenting plan.
Safety of the child
The child’s safety is at risk when one parent is abusive. Even if the parent never put one’s hands on the children, there is a chance that it will come to physical contact if the child doesn’t do what the parent wanted. The risk of abuse for the child is often too great for the court to allow the abusive party any unsupervised contact with the children. This is true even in courts that usually look favorably on co-parenting and shared parenting models.
Emotional toll of the situation
The emotional toll of the situation can also mean that the parents working together on custody matters won’t be viable. The children might also have some emotional issues because of the abuse they witnessed. When the children aren’t comfortable with the parent who was abusive to the other parent, having to spend time alone with that parent might cause anxiety.
Alternative parenting plans
One of the alternative plans that the court might use for the allegedly abusive parent to see the children is supervised visits. These visits usually occur in a neutral place and are supervised by someone authorized by the court. This isn’t ideal for fostering the relationship between the parent and child, but it might be necessary to help ensure the child remains safe.