Allegations of domestic violence can play a major role in the decision made by an Illinois court in a child custody case. The court is committed to taking strong action in these situations to prevent the exposure of a child to violence. For this reason, parents accused of violence against a spouse or other person in the home may find it difficult to obtain custody or visitation rights in the aftermath of the accusations.

Domestic violence has become such an epidemic in America that an estimated 15 million children witness acts of violence in their own homes each year. This violent atmosphere is often the catalyst for divorce, and a court is sometimes left to decide what is best for the immediate future of any children who are a result of the dissolving marriage.

Elements the court must decide upon in custody cases that involve domestic violence allegations include which of the two parents will become the physical custodian of the child, which of the two is the perpetrator of the violence and which parent is the victim.

The court will not allow an allegation alone to stand as proof of domestic violence. Evidence accepted by the court includes police reports, physical injuries, photographs and witness statements.

If domestic violence is confirmed, the court will then determine what, if any, visitation will be allowed by the offending spouse. In some cases, the court will order classes or counseling before visitation rights can be restored. The court also has the power to issue a restraining order if it deems the offending parent to be a threat to the safety of the family.

It is never easy for married persons to decide on a life apart. This process is made much more complicated when the marriage results in one or more children. Individuals concerned with the custody of a child after a marriage dissolves may find it helpful to speak to a lawyer concerning the situation.