Illinois family law judges have one primary obligation in child custody cases. Their most important responsibility is to make decisions that they believe are in children’s best interests.
As a parent, your arrest on domestic violence charges is enough to potentially put your custodial rights in jeopardy. A conviction for such a crime may be the proverbial nail in the coffin. A family court judge will likely weigh various factors when deciding what impact your impending or adjudicated charges have on your custody case.
The expectation is that a judge will presume a defendant as innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Judges tend to err on the side of caution when awarding custody, though.
What factors will a family court judge weigh?
Accusations of domestic violence may prompt the family law judge presiding over your case to replace your custodial rights with visitation rights. They’ll likely weigh various factors before doing so, including:
- Whether there’s documentable proof of the allegations such as police reports, hospital records and photographs
- How recent the alleged offenses were and whether charges are pending
- The frequency and severity of the allegations
- Whether the alleged offenses targeted your child or co-parent
- Any similar past accusations
- The impact of any domestic violence on your child
The judge in your case likely won’t take your co-parent’s word about any alleged offenses at face value. Judges are well aware of parents’ potential to make such allegations to gain the upper hand in a custodial dispute.
How to proceed in your custody case while facing domestic violence charges
The likelihood of a judge awarding you liberal custodial rights, such as joint or full custody, when there’s an open domestic violence case against you is slim. You may even have to fight to preserve your right to visitation. An attorney can advise you on what constitutes a solid case to better strategize how to present your perspective in court.