Law Offices of Matthew S. Schultz, P.C.

Does history of domestic violence forever limit father's rights?

Legal repercussions of domestic violence can be severe, involving incarceration and required counseling or drug and alcohol treatment. But for parents, there is a special, more emotional level of severe. A domestic violence incident can have consequences on a mother or father's parental rights.

An out-of-state case involving a father's rights to his child shows how one's history can endanger his future as a parent. A trial court and appeals court reached varying opinions about the father's ability to be a good parent. For now, the father has the opportunity to be a parent to a child he hasn't seen for about a year.

Domestic violence in many cases can be a two-way street. It isn't always that one spouse or parent is the aggressor. Sometimes, both participate in the violence against each other. The parents in the specific case we are discussing both had issues with violence toward the other, though that violence reportedly never turned toward the child involved.

What advocates for protecting the father's rights in this case want recognized is that history doesn't always define a person. People can change. People can go from sick to healthy. They can go from having troubles with anger management to being level-headed, responsible individuals and parents.

The father in this child custody case had a history of domestic violence, yes. He served time and attended the required treatment that supervisors believe shaped him into a healthy, stable and fit parent for his son today. Even though a trial court initially disagreed that change made the father a fit parent, an appeals court more recently disagreed with that ruling and, therefore, the father's rights were restored.

This and other child custody cases like it are not about the parent. They are and always should be about a child's best interest. By the appeals court rejecting the trial court's decision, it supports the point that parents are invaluable to the well-being of a child as long as they exhibit healthy behaviors at the present time. Past mistakes generally should not forever strip a parent of his rights.

Someone who is in the position of fighting for the best interests of his or her child needs a family law attorney by their side to help guide him or her through what can be a stressful, emotional but completely worthwhile legal process.


Source: Journal Star, "Court reverses termination of Nebraska man's parental rights," Margery A. Beck, Oct. 22, 2013

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