Allegations of domestic violence can inhibit parent's access to child

Divorce and child custody cases can grow increasingly complicated when one spouse accuses the other of committing acts related to domestic violence. In cases where an individual is accused of domestic violence or abuse, it's important to understand the legal process involved in these types of cases as well as the potential impact on a divorce or child custody case.

Minnesota's Domestic Abuse Act aims to protect individuals who have experienced "violence caused by a family or household member." Acts of domestic abuse include physical assault, criminal sexual conduct and threats of physical harm.

In divorce or child custody cases where an individual accuses his or her spouse or co-parent of domestic abuse, an Order for Protection may be sought. Individuals who accuse a spouse or co-parent of carrying out a physical or sexual assault or who have reason to fear for their safety or that of a child may petition the court to be granted an OFP which requires that the named party cease all communication and physical contact with the petitioner.

In cases where an OFP is granted and the individual affected disputes the claims, it's important to take legal action. This is particularly important in child custody cases where an OFP could interfere with a father or mother accessing and seeing his or her children and can negatively impact the outcome of a child custody case.

Individuals who have been served an OFP would be wise to consult with an attorney who is well-versed in both criminal and family law matters and who can assist in helping resolve matters as quickly as possible.

Source: Minnesota Judicial Branch, "Domestic Abuse Serivce Center," 2014

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