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Domestic Violence and its impact on child custody

Unfortunately, a domestic violence epidemic continues to occur in Virginia and all across the United States, which is evident by news reports of sports athletes and celebrities involved in seemingly weekly incidents. Victims of domestic violence often feel especially helpless and vulnerable, believing that reporting an incident may lead to future incidents down the line. But unless incidents are reported, nothing will ever fix the situation. Many people are unaware that domestic violence is not limited to physical violence, but may take other forms as well.

Many of you have heard the old cliché, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me," but when it comes to abuse, this is a blatant fallacy. Emotional and psychological abuses, in the form of criticisms, intimidation, stalking and even threats of physical violence, are all forms of domestic violence. In addition, taking control of a family's finances and limiting a spouse's financial freedom can be construed as economic abuse.

According to a recent statement by the United States Attorney General, domestic violence is the number one health concern in the United States today. Sadly, many incidents still go unreported, further adding to the problem. Reporting any incident today, may lead to important evidence in the future.

Since child custody decisions are made on the primary philosophy of keeping the best interest of the child in mind, any previous incident of domestic violence will become a vital consideration in a judge's decision. It is crucial to report any incident of domestic violence to protect yourself and your children. Failing to do so may lead to severe problems in the future.

It may be difficult to address all marital and divorce concerns at one time, but if domestic abuse was an issue in a marriage, it is important to speak up about those concerns when a child custody order is being decided. Those dealing with this or other legal divorce issues should understand that he or she has options. Educating yourself about your legal rights could protect the interests of everyone involved, especially a child's.

Source: f, "What is Domestic Violence?" Accessed July 28, 2015.

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