How Does A Domestic Violence Charge Affect Child Custody In Utah?

debate over child custody between two parents while child is scared and need a UTAH domestic violence defense lawyer

31 Jan 2024 /

How Does A Domestic Violence Charge Affect Child Custody In Utah?

When a parent is facing domestic violence charges in Utah, it inevitably raises urgent questions about how this will impact child custody and parental rights. The complex interplay between criminal charges and family court proceedings requires professional legal guidance to ensure the best possible outcome.

This article provides an overview of how domestic violence charges can influence child custody determinations in Utah. It aims to help those navigating these difficult situations understand the key legal considerations and potential consequences, and why working with an experienced domestic violence defense attorney is strongly advised.

Our attorneys at Gravis Law deliver optimal case outcomes for you with the utmost discretion and empathy. With years of experience, we have years of proven outcomes. Call us today at 385.707.0432 for your free consultation. 

Domestic Violence Laws in Utah

Utah domestic violence laws aim to protect victims and prevent further harm. The legal definition encompasses physical abuse as well as non-physical actions like threats, intimidation, and emotional manipulation. When bringing domestic violence charges, prosecutors must prove the accused committed or threatened to commit an act of violence against an intimate partner or family member.

Utah uses a “preponderance of the evidence” standard in family law cases, which means that an allegation of domestic violence only needs to be supported by 51% of the evidence for the court to take action. This is a lower evidentiary bar than the “beyond reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal trials.

How Child Custody Decisions Are Made

Utah family courts use the “best interests of the child” standard to guide custody determinations. Several factors are considered when deciding custody arrangements, visitation terms, and restrictions. An allegation or finding of domestic violence will weigh heavily, as the court must prioritize the child’s safety and well-being.

If domestic violence is substantiated, the court may determine the abusive parent poses too great a risk for sole or shared custody. More severe restrictions including supervised visitation or suspending custody/visitation rights may be ordered to protect the child.

Protective Orders Also Impact Custody

If a protective order is issued against an accused domestic violence offender in Utah, it can severely limit that parent’s access to a child, even their own child. The scope of the protective order will depend on the case details. Temporary restrictions may be ordered while the case proceeds.

However, final protective orders can result in the loss of custody, supervised visitation only, or termination of parental rights. Accused parents should have an attorney review any proposed protective orders regarding their children and advocate for the least restrictive terms feasible.

False Accusations Do Occur

While domestic violence should always be taken seriously, false accusations unfortunately occur in some child custody disputes. Sometimes abusive spouses will preemptively make false claims to gain leverage in a custody battle.

Other times a parent may wrongly suspect abuse during a turbulent separation. False domestic violence allegations can be just as damaging, leading to loss of custody for the wrongly accused.

A criminal defense attorney can help investigate such claims and fight false or inflated allegations with evidence and expert testimony. They can also advise the client on strategies to help demonstrate fitness for custody throughout legal proceedings.

The Attorney’s Role in Domestic Violence Custody Cases

Navigating the complex criminal and family legal systems during domestic violence custody proceedings requires experienced legal guidance. A qualified domestic violence defense attorney can:

  • Review evidence and prepare the strongest defense against abuse allegations

  • Challenge exaggerations or false claims of abuse

  • Advocate for the least restrictive custody and visitation terms

  • Work to preserve parental rights if possible

  • Develop risk management strategies to demonstrate fitness for custody

  • Negotiate with prosecutors/opposing counsel to reach favorable outcomes

  • Without legal advice, accused parents may jeopardize their custody rights by saying or doing something that enables abuse allegations to stick. Engaging legal counsel early in the process is essential.

Takeaway Tips for Parents Facing Domestic Violence Charges

For parents navigating this challenging situation, the following tips are crucial:

  • Seek legal help immediately – Meet with a qualified domestic violence attorney before speaking to investigators or agreeing to any proposed orders regarding your children. Understand your rights in both the criminal and family law proceedings.

  • Focus on your kids – Demonstrating that the kids’ safety and well-being are your top priority can help mitigate the risk of losing custody permanently.

  • Manage your own behavior carefully – How you conduct yourself throughout the legal process will be used by the courts to determine if you pose a risk. Don’t vent accusations or grievances on social media or in communication with the other parent.

  • Comply fully with court orders – Strictly following any temporary custody, visitation, or protective orders is essential to showing you can prioritize your children’s safety. Violating such orders will only bring more severe and permanent restrictions.

  • Create a post-resolution custody plan – Work with your attorney to create a thorough custody and visitation arrangement you can present to the court once the domestic violence charges are resolved. This demonstrates your commitment to constructive solutions.

  • Seek counseling support if relevant – Participating in counseling or anger management programs, even voluntarily, can help ease concerns about volatility or manipulative behaviors.

  • Document your commitment to your kids – Keep records showing your involvement in their schooling, medical care, extracurricular activities, etc. This evidence underscores your capability as a responsible parent.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How Can Domestic Violence Charges Impact Child Custody Decisions In Utah?

In Utah, domestic violence charges can significantly impact child custody decisions. Courts prioritize the child’s safety, often leading to restrictions on custody or visitation rights for the accused parent. The severity of the charges and the evidence presented play a key role in these decisions.

  1. What Role Does A Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Play In These Cases?

A domestic violence defense attorney advocates for the rights of the accused while navigating the complexities of family and criminal law. They work to present evidence and arguments that protect their client’s interests, particularly regarding custody and visitation rights.

  1. Can I Still See My Children If I’m Charged With Domestic Violence?

It’s possible, but it depends on the case specifics and court orders. The court may allow supervised visitations or impose certain conditions to ensure the child’s safety. Legal counsel can help negotiate these terms.

  1. How Are False Accusations Of Domestic Violence Handled In Utah Courts?

False accusations are taken seriously in Utah courts. The accused can present evidence to counter the claims. A skilled defense attorney can help disprove false allegations and protect the accused’s rights and reputation.

  1. What Should I Do If Facing A Domestic Violence Charge And A Custody Battle In Utah?

If facing both a domestic violence charge and a custody battle, it’s crucial to seek legal representation immediately. An attorney experienced in domestic violence defense can guide you through the legal processes and help formulate a defense strategy.

Get Experienced Legal Representation From a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney

While complex legal hurdles remain, taking these proactive steps alongside an experienced domestic violence defense attorney gives accused parents the best chance of preserving their custody rights. Each case outcome is unique, but with strategic legal guidance parents can potentially limit the damage from abuse allegations during child custody disputes.

Ultimately, all parties must follow court orders regarding custody arrangements. However developing a personalized legal strategy for the specifics of your case provides the greatest protection. Contact a qualified domestic violence defense lawyer to discuss your options.

Our attorneys at Gravis Law deliver optimal case outcomes for you with the utmost discretion and empathy. With years of experience, we have years of proven outcomes. Call us today at 385.707.0432 for your free consultation. 

Get in touch with a Gravis Business Law attorney

Contact Preference:
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.