In the United States, including Virginia, establishing child custody is done to protect the best interest of the child. Often, sole custody is granted to a parent when the other parent is considered unfit or violent. Allowing a child to be in the presence of a violent parent can lead to dire situations, as evidenced by a recent ruling in Pulaski, Virginia.
On Monday, April 27, a mother was sentenced to 7 years in prison after she left her 5 month old son with his abusive father. After a fight between the parents, she watched the father allegedly throw the child onto a bed. She then left the child alone with the father. The father was arrested for child abuse the following day, and it came to light that the child was missing. The father then took a U.S. Marshal to a rural area where the child was found naked and buried, with dozens of bruises found on the body.
While the mother was found to be responsible for leaving the child with the father prone to violence, the father is now facing capital murder charges for the child's death. The trial is set to begin in early June. Although she expressed regret and pleaded for mercy, she was found guilty of felony child neglect charges.
The importance of keeping, "the best interest of the child" in mind when courts make child custody decisions cannot be understated. And tragic events like this can serve as a constant reminder of that mantra during the decision making process.
Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch, " Pulaski mom sentenced on charges stemming from baby's death", Cameron Austin, Apr. 27, 2015