Like other states, New York has laws on its books which are designed to protect victims of domestic violence.
Unlike some other states, New York’s laws do not go into a lot of detail about what happens in child custody cases where one parent has committed domestic violence or some other sort of abuse against the other parent.
Instead, the law leaves New York’s family judges generally free to consider and weigh evidence of domestic violence in a custody or visitation proceeding.
The good news is that a parent can bring in evidence of abuse without first having to press criminal charges or even file a police report. There is also no time limit on how far a judge can look back in one’s past for evidence of abusive behavior.
It is also worth remembering that in New York, abuse need not be one serious act. It can be a pattern of aggressive behavior.
An abuser may get visitation or custody in New York
On the flip side, New York judges have a lot of discretion to give an accused abuser visitation or even custody.
The person making the accusation will have to prove to the judge that the abusive behavior makes the accused parent a threat to the child health or well-being.
If there is not enough evidence that the parent could harm the child, then a judge may grant visits or custody to the extent that they are in the child’s best interests.
A custody case involving domestic violence requires careful handling
A victim will have to evaluate her legal options carefully. She will also need to be sure that she comes to court with a well-organized case supported by evidence. After all, her safety and the safety of her children may well depend on a court’s decision.
On the other hand, a person falsely accused of abuse will need to defend himself against such charges or risk missing out on a relationship with his children.