All too often, children are those who are hurt the most when domestic violence and abuse occur. Whether they are the victims of abuse, or innocent observers, the scars domestic abuse leaves never fade. The best way to protect children from domestic violence is to separate them from the abuser. This is easier said than done in a state like New Mexico which prefers to give parents joint legal child custody and ample time with their children, however, our legal system takes allegations of abuse very seriously.
So seriously, in fact, that some unscrupulous parents will accuse their former partners of abuse in an attempt to game the child custody system. This sick behavior is itself a form of abuse which must be called out.
Attorney Bob Matteucci, of Matteucci Family Law, helps victims of domestic violence and abuse sever the legal ties binding themselves to their abuser, and protect themselves and their children from further harm.
Understanding Domestic Violence in Relation to Child Custody
Most associate domestic violence and domestic abuse with physical violence, but there are other forms that domestic violence and abuse can take, especially with children. Forms of domestic abuse and domestic violence include:
- Physical abuse — Hitting, biting, slapping, battering, punching, and shoving are just some examples of physical abuse inflicted on domestic violence victims. Child endangerment and neglect are common forms of physical abuse against children.
- Sexual abuse — Engaging in sexual behavior without the victim’s consent or coercing the victim into sexual contact is considered sexual abuse. Exposing children to sexually explicit materials is also a form of sexual abuse in child sexual abuse cases.
- Emotional abuse — Constant criticism or name-calling can severely affect a victim’s mental health and also affect their relationships with others.
- Psychological abuse — Psychological abuse includes intimidation, threats to physically harm the victim or loved ones, separating victims from their loved ones, or prohibiting the victim from performing their daily activities.
Taking these actions against children is abuse, but so is exposing them to the abuse of others. No child deserves to be victimized, or watch others suffer at the hands of an abuser.
Take Immediate Action To Protect Your Children From Abuse
If you or your child are experiencing any of the above forms of domestic abuse, reach out to the New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence for additional information on victim support services in your local area: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). However, if you feel you are in immediate danger, you should call 911.
Attorney Bob Matteucci is ready to help victims distance themselves from an abusive family member and take legal action. One of the first things he can help you do is petition the court for an Order of Protection.
Commonly referred to as a restraining order, an Order of Protection is a court order that can protect you and your children by forbidding your abuser from hurting, threatening, or harassing you or your kids. The abuser will be forbidden from contacting you or being in physical proximity to you, your children, your place of work or residence, and your children’s school or activities. If your abuser violates the Order, he or she may be arrested.
Many judges will immediately put a temporary order of protection in place to protect you and your children until there is a hearing on a more permanent order.
How Domestic Violence and Abuse Impact Child Custody
If you or your children are being abused, it is time to seek full custody of your children and limit your kids’ interaction with your former partner. Whether this means drafting a custody agreement from scratch or modifying an order already in place, Attorney Matteucci can help you persuade the court your children should no longer have contact with an abuser.
New Mexico courts generally prefer to grant joint legal custody (decision-making authority) to both parents and to allow ample visitation time between the non-custodial parent and the child. However, evidence of domestic violence can quickly shift this paradigm.
When abuse is alleged, many New Mexico courts will award you temporary custody of the children if the judge believes the abuser poses a threat to their safety. The court will then conduct a more in-depth analysis of the evidence it is presented. If abuse is found, the judge will typically limit the abuser’s interaction with his or her children. This is done in two different ways:
- Supervised or restricted visitation. The abusive parent may still have visitation time but under supervision or other court restrictions. Visitation will only take place in a specific setting with a person whose role will be to supervise and ensure the well-being of the child.
- No visitation. This is rare and reserved only for the most extreme situations. An Order of Protection, which forbids the abusive parent from having any contact with the child, may be needed.
It is important to note that an abuser’s duty to provide financial support to his or her children does not end, even if he or she loses all parenting rights or is criminally convicted and sentenced to jail. Financial concerns should not stop you from taking steps to protect yourself and your children.
Fighting False Accusations of Abuse
New Mexico courts take allegations of domestic violence and abuse very seriously
. As they should. Unfortunately, this means that some parents who are involved in a custody dispute will hurl false accusations of abuse at their child’s other parent as part of a strategy to take the falsely accused parent out of the children’s life and/or to relocate to another state. This sick behavior is itself a form of abuse, and it must be stopped.
Anyone who is facing false accusations of abuse should take immediate legal action before his or her children are wrongly taken away. In these cases, Attorney Matteucci acts quickly to expose inconsistencies between the accuser’s claims, police records, and witness accounts in order to clear his client’s good names.
He shows the court how the parent making the false allegations is using their children to hurt the other parent. Since that sort of manipulative behavior is a form of abuse, the courts will often take it into consideration when making their final decisions about child custody.
Contact Our New Mexico Domestic Violence And Child Custody Attorney
If you are a victim of domestic violence or abuse, you are not alone. Thousands of New Mexico families are affected by domestic violence and abuse, regardless of the age, sex, marital status, or economic status of the people involved.
Attorney Bob Matteucci will sit down with you and listen to your story and will help you understand your legal options. Bob and his staff are very discrete and will keep the information you reveal in confidence until it must be revealed to the court.
Although meeting with an attorney is a difficult step to take, Attorney Matteucci wants to get you the help you need and keep you and your children safe. He will handle your case with care, and treat you with the dignity and respect you deserve as you navigate the legal system together. Please contact the Matteucci Family Law Firm to schedule a meeting.