The impact of domestic violence on visitation rights

On Behalf of | May 8, 2023 | Family Law |

Domestic violence is one significant issue in North Carolina. It is also one of the primary reasons for divorce in the state. But what’s more concerning is that even though a divorce case may have prevented further violence at home, there can still be lasting damage to its “hidden” victims – the divorcee’s children.

Witnessing and experiencing domestic violence can cause children to feel scared, anxious and helpless. It leaves a traumatic memory that may lead to lasting behavioral and academic problems. So, what if the parent with a history of domestic violence wanted to visit their child after the divorce? How can the history of domestic violence affect visitation rights?

Determining visitation

In North Carolina, as in other states, the child’s best interests are the primary consideration when determining visitation rights. The court will consider the child’s age, relationship with each parent, and any history of domestic violence. If the court determines that visitation with a parent with a history of domestic violence is not in the child’s best interests, visitation may be restricted or supervised.

In some cases, a domestic violence protective order may be necessary to ensure the safety of the child and the non-abusive parent. A protective order can prohibit the abusive parent from contacting the child or requiring supervised visitation.

With supervised visitation, a neutral third party is present during visitation to ensure the safety of the child and the non-abusive parent.

Can a domestic violence protective order be lifted?

A domestic violence protective order can be lifted by the court that issued the order or by a higher court on appeal. To request, the person who obtained the order (the petitioner) or the person against whom the order was issued (the respondent) must file a motion with the court. The motion should explain why the order should be lifted and provide any supporting evidence.

Before deciding, the court will consider several factors, such as:

  • Have been any new incidents of domestic violence or threats of violence?
  • Does the petitioner still feel threatened by the respondent?
  • Would lifting the order be in the parties’ best interests, especially the child’s?

It is important to note that even if a protective order is lifted, the parties may still be subject to other court orders, such as child custody or visitation orders.

Being charged with domestic violence does not always mean a parent would not want to see or be with their child. But it does affect visitation rights.