My ex-husband used to abuse me. What if I do not want him near the children?
If one spouse physically abuses the other, can that spouse be considered a good role model for the children? How can the violent spouse be a fit parent at all?
Domestic violence is an unfortunate fact of life for many children and can be especially devastating far beyond the effects of divorce itself. There is evidence that children who see domestic violence end up violent themselves, both as children and as adults. If an action can be considered a pebble dropped in a pool, causing ripples that fan out and affect other things and actions, domestic violence can be likened to a boulder dropped in the pool, causing waves that can destroy all opportunities of a normal life.
As you can see from our example statute above, spousal abuse is a significant factor in deciding custody. Some states automatically award the abused spouse custody. Often the abused spouse (usually the mother) will try to get sole custody and prevent the father from seeing the children. This can be conflicting of some statutes in certain states, which strive to maintain a relationship between the children and both parents.
If you are the victim of spousal abuse, do not hesitate to seek help. It is your goal to protect yourself and your children. There may be a community shelter or hot line specifically for victims of spousal abuse in your area. These shelters or hot lines are the best at being able to help you.