Close up of man fist. Scared injured woman face on background.

Domestic violence charges can negatively impact a parent’s case for child custody and visitation rights. While Illinois does recognize that having both parents involved in the child’s life is in the best interests of the child, that is disregarded if one or both parents face credible charges of domestic violence.

If a parent has a record of prior domestic violence, then the judge will automatically impose a rebuttable presumption that it is in the best interests of the child to neither see nor visit the alleged abusive parent. This presumption may be rebutted by presenting evidence and witnesses in court. The judge will consider the following factors:

  • Whether there are negative implications regarding the child’s development, safety, overall well-being,
  • The context of the prior domestic abuse charges, and
  • The effect of the abuse on the alleged abusive parent’s ability to care for the child.

There are three possible outcomes following the rebuttal. First, the judge could find that the parent poses a credible threat to the well-being of the child and deny any request for visitation or custody. Second, the judge may find merit to the allegations but decide that limited contact with the child is in his or her best interest. In this case, the visitation may be allowed but it will likely be subject to certain conditions such as meeting in neutral locations or supervised visitation. Finally, the judge may not find the allegations credible and grant some form of custody.

Denying Custody

The judge may deny custody if it is determined that abuse may be inflicted on the child or the other parent, the child is at risk of abduction, or other actions that are contrary to the interests of the child may occur. If the judge believes that granting visitation or custody endangers the child’s physical, emotional, mental, or moral health then the request will be denied.

Supervised Custody

The judge may grant limited visitation or custody but impose restrictions to protect the child and the other parent. For example, the judge may order that the child’s current address remain confidential allowing the other parent to only visit the child at neutral locations. The judge may impose supervised visitation during which the alleged abusive parent pays for a social worker or mental health specialist to attend the visitations. Additionally, the court may restrict contact to only electronic means.