Accusations of domestic violence are taken very seriously by the Oklahoma courts—even when there is minimal evidence to support the charge. If you’ve been accused of domestic violence and you have a child with the alleged victim, it’s possible that your custody or visitation rights could be at risk. Even if you feel you’ve been falsely accused, you must take the charge seriously.
Determining the Best Interests of the Child
Courts use the “best interests of the child” standard to make custody and visitation decisions. This standard considers several factors, including the child’s relationship with each parent, the physical and mental health of each parent, each parent’s ability to provide a safe home environment, and the involvement of each parent in day-to-day tasks related to the child’s care and education.
Allegations of domestic violence are problematic for several reasons:
- Violent behavior suggests a problem with anger management, which could lead to an increased risk of physical or verbal abuse of the child.
- If alcohol or drugs were involved, this opens the door to possible accusations of substance use disorder.
- A parent accused of violent behavior will be seen as unlikely to communicate in a healthy matter when it comes to making joint parenting decisions.
- A home environment marked by conflict increases a child’s stress levels, which can have negative effects on personal relationships and academic achievement.
After allegations of domestic violence, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) may be asked to conduct an investigation to determine the suitability of the child’s home environment.
Possible Limitations Placed on Custody and Visitation
Domestic violence allegations are most likely to negatively impact custody or visitation decisions when:
- You’ve been arrested for domestic violence or assault in the past.
- There are photos, video, medical reports, witness testimony, or other forms of evidence to corroborate the allegations.
- The alleged victim is fully cooperating with the investigation and has requested sole custody.
- Your child witnessed the incident.
- Your child has expressed a desire to remain with their other parent.
If you are convicted, you can expect that you will not receive custody. Oklahoma law states joint or sole custody should not be awarded to a parent who has been convicted of domestic violence in the past five years. If the court awards your child’s other parent sole custody, you may be given visitation rights with one or more of the following restrictions.
- You must complete an intervention program for batterers certified by the Office of the Attorney General.
- You must agree to avoid alcohol and controlled substances for 24 hours before visits with the child.
- You must be evaluated by a qualified mental health professional.
- Visitation must be supervised by a designated third-party adult or agency, and overnight visits won’t be allowed until a certain timeframe has passed with no further incident.
- Drop off and pick up meetings must occur in a protected setting.
Termination of parental rights is possible in the most extreme cases, such as when the child’s other parent has suffered severe bodily injury. A termination of parental rights is a permanent measure that can’t be undone regardless of any efforts to cooperate with the court by attending counseling or substance abuse treatment programs.
Protecting Your Parental Rights Requires a Proactive Approach
Keep in mind that the court does not require the participation of the alleged victim to revise child custody or visitation rights after an allegation of domestic violence. To learn why it’s vital that you take domestic violence charges seriously, request a copy of our free guide, Domestic Violence Charges in Oklahoma: What You Need to Know. This informative eBook provides a comprehensive look at how charges are prosecuted and offers tips to help you build a strong defense.
As the only private attorney in Oklahoma to focus his law practice on defending individuals accused of domestic abuse and other special victim crimes, Lee Berlin is committed to helping his clients minimize the negative impact of domestic violence charges on their relationships with their children. Contact The Berlin Law Firm today to schedule a consultation.