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When couples are in the process of obtaining a divorce, there are many factors that come into play. One of the most important involves allegations of abuse by one spouse against another, whether it be physical, emotional, or verbal. Along with the possibility that one spouse may feel as if they are being endangered, it becomes more critical if children are caught in the crossfire. In situations such as these, the spouse claiming to be on the receiving end of the abuse may attempt to seek sole custody of the children. However, before doing so, there are many aspects a judge may review before making a custody decision.
Best Interests of the Child
First and foremost, a judge will consider what is in the child’s best interests above all else. But be advised, if you’re trying to prove your spouse is guilty of verbal abuse, you’ll need solid proof to be given to the judge in order to win your case. This can be particularly difficult if the parent you are accusing is the one with which the children have been living, since courts are often very hesitant about removing children from one home and placing then in an unfamiliar environment. So before pursuing a custody order based on these actions, you’ll need plenty of evidence. Along with this, the court will also take into account the child’s preferences as to which parent with whom he or she would prefer to live. In cases such as these, the judge will usually make arrangements to speak with the child, so be prepared for this as well.
Because a judge won’t just accept your word as to the abuse allegations, you’ll have to have proof that verbal abuse has actually happened. To do so, you may need to request a custody evaluation as part of your divorce proceedings. Conducted by a psychologist who is trained to detect various forms of abuse in children, the evaluation will consist of the psychologist conducting an in-depth interview with the children, looking for signs of abuse. Along with this, both parents will also be interviewed and be asked to complete various psychological tests, which can often indicate abusive behavior in one or both of the parents. However, while it is perfectly acceptable to express your concerns to the psychologist prior to the evaluation, it’s important to note that the psychologist must never have previously treated any member of your family, making them a neutral participant in the process. Once the evaluation is completed, the results will be given to the judge.
In some divorce cases, one parent may be so determined to gain sole custody of their children that they will make false allegations of verbal abuse against their spouse. However, if the court determines false allegations have indeed been made, it could have serious consequences as to how the divorce case will play out. Even if you attempt to get a second or third opinion to prove your allegations, it may start to have a negative impact on your attempts to get sole custody. In some cases, not only can you lose any chance of gaining sole custody, but you may also lose your rights to visitation. In order to keep this from happening, it’s advisable to carefully weigh your options when it comes to claiming verbal abuse or any other type of abuse against your spouse during your divorce proceedings.
Consult an Attorney
Because attempting to gain sole custody during divorce proceedings is such an important matter, it’s critical to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer prior to making any claims of abuse. Since your potential welfare as well as that of any children involved will be at stake, it’s imperative you listen to your attorney regarding these matters. Otherwise, you may find yourself facing even more serious legal consequences.