Mother and daughter suffering from domestic violence of father.

Domestic Violence Restraining Order Effect on Child Custody 

Law Office of Shelly Jean John Jan. 19, 2023

After the judge’s final decision to approve a domestic violence restraining order, you may wonder how this may affect a child custody order that’s either already in place or being set up. You may wonder if you’ll be forced to let your child visit them. You need to understand how the restraining order will affect visitation and custody in the short term as well as in the future.   

This can be tremendously stressful. You shouldn’t face these questions alone, especially as you navigate the oftentimes confusing legal system. From my offices in Ontario and Riverside, California, I proudly serve clients throughout San Bernardino County, Riverside County, and the surrounding areas. 

Factors Considered in Determining Child Custody  

Determining child custody is rarely a black-and-white decision. A lot of factors come into play, and the courts will choose what is best for the child. When making a decision, the judge will consider the following factors:  

  • The safety, health, and welfare of the child;  

  • Any history of abuse from each parent; 

  • The mental and physical health of the parents; 

  • The relationship with each parent, including the amount of contact with each parent; 

  • And any history of illegal drug usage, alcohol abuse, and addiction or abuse of prescribed medications.  

In California, any child that is 14 years or older is allowed to express their preferences for which parent they want to live with and the courts will consider it. However, the well-being of that child is still the priority, so if they decide that that preference is not in the child’s best interest, the judge may be able to make a decision against it.  

What Happens While the Restraining Order Is Active 

Before the court makes a long-term, official decision for child custody and visitation rights, and the restraining order is active, it is essential that the recipient follows the restraining order exactly. During this time, the recipient’s custody and visitation rights are taken away entirely.  

Also, if a child custody agreement has already been finalized in court and the restraining order is a new development, it’s important to understand that you can modify the child custody order through a court. 

Domestic Violence Restraining Order Effect on Child Custody 

Domestic violence includes a person causing pain to another person that they have an intimate relationship with. This can occur through threats, physical or emotional damage, assault, and many more. For protection, a restraining order can cause temporary relief and give the victims pause from the abuse.  

Domestic violence restraining orders are usually temporary, but they can have long-term effects on child custody and visitation rights. A parent may be restricted in their access to contact and see the child or even be denied.  

Custody includes two main factors: legal custody and physical custody. Custody arrangements can include any combination of joint (shared) or sole (one parent) custody. The types of custody arrangements include: 

  • Sole legal custody and sole physical custody  

  • Sole physical custody and joint legal custody 

  • Joint physical custody and joint legal custody  

  • Sole legal custody and joint physical custody 

In court, the judge will decide on the best option. Each case is taken individually, and a family law attorney can fight for you and your child’s protection. 

In cases of domestic abuse, the parent that filed the domestic violence restraining order (the victim) will generally get sole legal custody and sole physical custody of their child, with the possibility of visitation from the other parent.  

Effect on Visitation Rights 

When one parent is awarded sole physical custody, a visitation schedule is generally created so the non-custodial parent can have time with their child. However, in a domestic violence case, courts may temporarily suspend visitation rights or deny them entirely. 

If visitation is allowed, there are three common options for a parent with a domestic violence restraining order: 

  • Visitations need to be supervised by a third party, such as law enforcement.  

  • Supervised visitations can occur only after a certain amount of time and after therapy or anger management courses are taken.  

  • Visitations are allowed, but not overnight visits. 

An attorney can stand by your side in your case and guide you to the best option for you and your child. Don’t face this alone.  

Rely on Experienced Representation 

Ultimately, what’s most important is that your child is protected, safe, and well, and the judge will make that decision. If you have any questions, reach out today. I will give you the attention, guidance, and experienced advocacy that you deserve in your unique situation. If you’re in Riverside, Ontario, San Bernardino County, Riverside County, or any of the surrounding areas, contact the Law Office of Shelly Jean John. I’m ready to support you.