Domestic Violence Lawyer Nassau County

Domestic Violence and Child Custody

How domestic violence affects child custody in New York

Domestic violence is a serious problem with severe consequences. It often plays a major role in child custody disputes in New York State. This article discusses how New York’s domestic violence laws may affect child custody decisions. This article is not legal advice. For that, you must contact an attorney for a consultation. An experienced family lawyer can help answer any questions you have regarding child custody or domestic violence.

You should seek immediate assistance if you have been a victim of domestic violence. Many organizations offer help to domestic violence victims in Nassau County, NY. The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence website provides information and resources for victims of domestic violence.

How Judges Make Custody Decisions

If you and your child’s parent cannot agree on custody arrangements, you can file a petition with the court. A judge will make the final decision. The judge considers what is best for the child when making a custody determination. This includes taking into account the circumstances surrounding the case. The following are some instances the court considers for custody;

  • The wishes of the child
  • The willingness and ability of both parents to foster a healthy relationship with the child
  • Each party’s and the child’s health
  • The child’s relationship with each parent and other family members like siblings and step-parents
  • Each parent’s ability to care for and provide for their child.

Child abuse and domestic violence are often reasons why a custody hearing can go against one parent. The court must consider, by law, the impact of any domestic violence on the child before deciding on custody. However, if you claim that your spouse or partner committed domestic violence against you, you must prove it “by a preponderance of the evidence.” This means that it’s more likely than not to have occurred. It is up to the court to decide which allegations are true and which are false. 

Domestic Violence: The Complexities

New York courts consider any domestic violence incidents that may have occurred before or during a custody proceeding. Domestic violence can be a complex issue and is not always easy to spot.

What is domestic violence exactly?

Domestic violence is abusive behavior within a family or “intimate relationship”. It occurs when a spouse or intimate partner exerts force or control over the other. 

New York law defines “intimate relationships” as; family, household, or other partners. This includes any of the following individuals:

  • People related by blood or marriage
  • Spouses and former spouses
  • Parents and children.
  • People who are not related by blood or marriage, that have previously lived together (ie., roommates).
  • People who share a child, regardless of their marital status
  • People in a relationship with someone, regardless of age. This includes both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. 

Domestic violence does not just include hitting. Among the many actions that can be considered domestic violence are:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Economic abuse, such as controlling all finances in a relationship, and
  • Psychological abuse (for instance, threats, intimidation, or stalking). (New York Family Court Act SS 821).

New York State Law protects domestic violence victims and holds the abusers accountable in several ways. A temporary restraining order is one. It may be granted by a criminal court if the abuser is facing a criminal case. The court can issue a permanent order of protection if the abuser gets convicted of the crime. In most cases, when a Criminal Order of Protection is issued, the abuser cannot contact the victim.


 If you have a child or children with your abuser, and there are both criminal and custody cases, your cases can be combined. The Integrated Domestic Violence Court will hear both your family and criminal cases.

Domestic violence victims in New York may also apply to the family court for a civil protection order. Your attorney can petition the Supreme Court to issue a civil protection order if you are involved in a divorce proceeding.


By protecting you from further abuse, civil orders of protection function similarly to criminal orders of protection. Your abuser may be required to leave the home, and avoid all contact with you. Violating a restraining order is contempt of court and can result in jail time. For more information on how to get a civil order of protection, visit the New York State Court’s website.

The Effect of Domestic Violence on Child Custody

Domestic violence is only one factor a judge will consider when deciding what is in the best interest of a child and granting custody to you or your spouse. Domestic violence doesn’t have to be between two parents. It can be between other relatives living in the home. Any recurring violence in the household is a factor in a child custody case.

Domestic violence is just one factor a judge considers when determining child custody. Other factors may include child abuse or neglect. A judge may not award custody to a parent for any number of reasons, all related to the child’s best interests. In cases of DV, the abuser may still be entitled to visitation. The court will make the final determination, based on the level of violence and any criminal convictions related to it.

If the judge believes that your child’s mental, physical, or emotional well-being is at risk if visitation is granted, they may choose to limit it. A judge might also order “supervised visitation,” where a third party supervises the parenting time, such as a social worker or a responsible family member. Court-ordered supervised visits can be temporary, lasting until the court deems it safe to have unsupervised visits.

You can ask the judge to rule that the exchange of your child with the other parent be made at a police precinct if you are concerned about your safety.

Hotlines To Call:

ABUSE ( Domestic ,Sexual , Child, and Elder)

Safe Center LI, INC

24/7 Domestic/Dating Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline

(516) 542-0404

NYS Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Hotline


(800) 942-6906


 (844) 997-2121


Circulo de la Hispanidad, Inc - Project SALVA

24/7 Billingual Domestic Violence Hotline

(516) 889-2849



Child Abuse

24/7 Maltreatment Hotline 1-800-342-3720

Mandated Reporters (800) 635-1522

Adult Protective Services / Elder Abuse


(516) 227-8550, (516) 227-8386, Nights, weekends and holidays

(516) 227-8395

To report elder abuse 

(516) 227-8082



Nassau County Department of Social Services

General Information: (516) 227-8519

After-Hours Services: (516) 573-8626 Assistance#vdv

Bethany House


(516) 868-6866

Safe Center LI, Inc.

(516) 465-4700



Nassau County Police Department

Main Number: (516) 573-8800

Emergency: 911


Nassau County District Attorney’s Office

(516) 571-3505.


Nassau County Family Court (to file family offense petitions)

(516) 493-3900


Nassau County Office of Crime Victim Advocate

(516) 571-1598


Nassau County Department of Senior Citizen Affairs

Senior HELP-LINE (516) 227-8900

Monday through Friday – 9:00 am-5:00 pm


New York Attorney General’s Office

(631) 231-2400


NYS Office of Victim Services

(800) 247-8035 •

TTY: 1-888-289-9747


The Safe Center LI, Inc.

(516) 465-4700 •


Nassau County Bar Association

(516) 747-4070 •


Nassau/Suffolk Law Services

(516) 292-8100 •


Circulo de la Hispanidad, Inc – Project SALVA

24/7 Bilingual Domestic Violence Hotline

(516) 889-2849.


Family & Children Association

(516) 485-4289.

Child Abuse Prevention Services (CAPS)

(516) 621-0552 •

Child Support Helpline

(888) 208-4485


Hispanic Counseling Center

(516) 538-2613 •


Domestic Harmony Foundation

Helpline: (516) 385-8292 •


EAC Network

(516) 539-0150 •