As has been the practice for decades now, October is the month in which people in particular remember and support victims of domestic violence.
During this Domestic Violence Awareness Month, one way Massachusetts victims themselves can take a stand for their right not to be abused is to start the process of getting out of an abusive relationship permanently.
Unfortunately, leaving an abusive relationship is not just a matter of packing up one’s stuff and children and getting away from the perpetrator, although that of course can be a vital first step. Oftentimes, there will need to be legal steps taken as well, including the setting up a child custody order with visitation provisions.
Thankfully, Massachusetts law affords some protection to victims of domestic violence who are trying to get custody over their children. If there is credible evidence that one parent has committed domestic violence against the other parent, or the children, then the presumption is that parent should not have custody.
The parent who committed the act has the option of trying to convince the judge that he should have custody despite committing domestic violence, but this of course is likely to be a very tough sell, even if no criminal case ever gets prosecuted.
Although the law in question does not specifically apply to visits, a parent who has been the victim of domestic violence may have the option of limiting the perpetrator’s contact with her children as well or, at a minimum, asking for an order designed to protect the victim from further abuse.
A victim of domestic violence has legal options for getting out of a bad relationship without having to choose between herself or her children. It may be a good idea to speak with an experienced Massachusetts family law attorney in confidence about these options.