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Impact of Domestic Violence on Child Custody

Knowledgeable Criminal Defense Attorneys Representing Tacoma Residents

Domestic violence charges should never be taken lightly, but they can be especially concerning if a person accused of committing a domestic violence crime has a child. Domestic violence crimes differ from other crimes in that they can directly affect the alleged offender’s custodial rights. If you have a child and are charged with a crime of domestic violence, it is critical to retain an assertive Tacoma domestic violence lawyer to help you defend your parental rights. The criminal attorneys at the Law Offices of Smith & White, PLLC understand the potential impact of domestic violence on child custody. We will work tirelessly to help you formulate a compelling defense to your domestic violence charges. We assist people charged with domestic violence in Pierce, King, Kitsap, and Thurston Counties.

Domestic Violence Charges

Under Washington law, several criminal offenses can constitute domestic violence. Section 26.50.010 of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) establishes that when a person causes physical harm or an injury to a member of his or her household or family, or places such a person in fear of such harm or injury, it is an act of domestic violence. Section 26.50.010 also defines stalking, assault, and sexual assault of one household or family member by another as domestic violence. Additionally, there are multiple enumerated crimes that RCW 10.99.020 defines as domestic violence crimes when they are committed by a person against a member of his or her household or family, including assault, kidnapping, harassment, and violating a protection order. Domestic violence crimes are not limited to the offenses listed in RCW 10.99.020, however, but can be any crime that falls under the definition of domestic violence.

Impact of Domestic Violence on Child Custody

A domestic violence charge can dramatically impair a person’s right to access his or her child. If a person is accused of a crime of domestic violence, several statutes permit the courts to restrict the person’s right to contact his or her victim and to restrict access to the person’s child. For example, RCW 26.50.070 permits a court to enter a temporary ex parte order for protection, prohibiting the alleged offender from contacting the victim or the victim’s children, or from entering a mutual home that the parties share. Additionally, if a person restricted by a no-contact order violates the order, the violation is considered a crime of domestic violence.

In addition to the temporary restrictions that may be imposed when a person is accused of a crime of domestic violence, a person’s right to custody of his or her child can be permanently impaired by a domestic violence conviction. In Washington, what is generally called legal custody is known as decision making, and what is generally called physical custody is known as residential time. RCW 26.09.191 sets forth several restrictions limiting a court’s ability to grant certain parental rights when developing a temporary or permanent parenting plan in cases in which one parent has a history of domestic violence. Specifically, in any action in which a court is determining a parenting plan, the court must limit a parent’s residential time with the child if it is determined that the parent has a history of acts of domestic violence. Additionally, a court will not grant mutual decision-making authority if one party has committed acts of domestic violence.

If you are a Washington resident accused of committing a crime of domestic violence, it is essential to meet with a skillful defense attorney to examine the impact of domestic violence on child custody in your case.

Speak with a Trusted Tacoma Attorney About Your Case

The proficient domestic violence defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Smith & White, PLLC can craft compelling arguments to help you try to avoid a conviction and protect your right to custody of your child. Our primary office is located in Tacoma, and we can meet by appointment at our secondary office in Vashon. We can be contacted through our online form or at 253-203-1645 to schedule a confidential and free meeting to discuss your case.

Client Reviews
★★★★★
I was represented by James White and have been nothing but satisfied with the outcome. Jame is very efficient and eliminates much of the stress that the judicial system can place on an offender. I am very grateful to have such a great attorney and owe him my gratitude for helping me when times were rough. Not only is he professional, but he is also someone you can talk to on a personal level. I highly recommend James White and would undoubtedly use him again in the future. If you are in search of an attorney, do yourself a favor and have the law offices of Smith & White represent you. Mike D.
★★★★★
I contacted James after my charge for reckless endangerment, and right from the start he was informative and reassuring. James worked hard to get me the best possible outcome, and was always very quick to return a call or text. He was straightforward and honest with me about my case, explaining both the good and the bad in a way that was reassuring without being misleading. Overall, I highly recommend Smith and White to anyone who is looking for the most professional representation in their legal matters. Matthew B.
★★★★★
Attorney James White was a beacon of hope for me at a time when my options appeared limited and the likeness of a satisfactory resolution seemed close to nothing. Not only was he able to defend me in a specific sticky situation in which I hired him for, I felt as though he also went above and beyond in efforts to provide me with the best outcome possible. His calm and professional demeanor offered such a great assurance to myself and those I care about around me. I am completely grateful for his service and I most definitely recommend Mr. White. Leyasha J.
★★★★★
Derek Smith guided us through a troubling legal situation with absolute professionalism. This was my first experience with a trial situation and Mr. Smith was able to address all of my questions and concerns in a way that helped address some of the fear I had regarding the legal system. Mr. Smith was highly effective during the trial and the result ended up in our favor. Legal troubles are scary and it was great knowing we had a fantastic legal team on our side to help navigate the somewhat confusing situation. My wife and I emphatically recommend this law firm. Steve B.
★★★★★
Mr. Smith was wonderful to work with. He was professional, knowledgeable and effective!! He takes the time to listen, which is amazing and can be a hard quality to find! He is informative and straight forward, which I truly appreciate! He was quite helpful on another matter that I asked his advise on. Thank you!!! Melika