It’s important to take domestic violence allegations seriously

Photo of attorney Melinda L. Singer

Even if there are no criminal charges, credible allegations of domestic violence can throw a huge wrench in a New Jersey resident’s child custody or parenting time case.

Someone who is the target of these domestic violence allegations must take them seriously. If they are indeed true, then the person will need to have a strategy planned for showing a judge how or she can still be trusted to have a relationship with her child.

If, on the other hand, the allegations are grossly exaggerated, out of context, or just outright false, then the person will need to prepare a vigorous defense to them.

After all, many New Jersey judges will play it safe when it comes to domestic violence allegations, so not rebutting them aggressively could mean a parent unjustly loses contact with his kids.

New Jersey courts are supposed to consider any history of domestic violence as well as the physical safety of both parents and the child.

Also, a judge can deem a parent unfit if the parent’s improper behaviors, including domestic violence, have harmed the child significantly.

Naturally, the frequency and severity of the domestic violence are important practical considerations in the judge’s decision-making.

Family law judges in New Jersey have a range of options in dealing with domestic violence in a home. For instance, a judge may take an isolated incident as a one-off mistake and allow a parent to prove she has learned her lesson.

On the other hand, judges also have the ability to restrict parenting time to supervised visits, award sole decision-making power to the parent who did not commit domestic violence, or even deny a parent contact with his children.

It is important for those accused of domestic violence to also remember that, in a family law court, they simply do not have the same rights as they would in a criminal case. A judge, and not a jury, will make the decision, and the accusation need not be charged as a crime and proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

There is a lot of risk, and a lot at stake, when a family law case includes an accusation of domestic violence. Having experienced legal counsel can be critical to the outcome of one’s case.

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