Children in California can suffer from a range of emotional problems after being exposed to domestic violence. Even if one parent's abuse was directed at the other parent and not at the child, the child is likely to experience depression, anxiety, anger and low self-esteem after witnessing the behavior. According to a national survey, people who were exposed to domestic violence as children are three times as likely to commit acts of domestic violence in their adulthood.
Though it is unhealthy for a child to witness domestic violence, child custody evaluators usually do not consider domestic violence incidents when making a recommendation about custody. Divorced parents who have been accused of domestic violence usually won't lose legal or physical custody of their children unless they were physically abusive towards their children. In fact, acts of domestic violence that only involved the parents are typically left off of child custody evaluation reports.
Some argue that most child custody evaluators are not trained to identify domestic violence or its negative impact on children. One study found that 47 percent of custody evaluators usually recommend joint legal and physical custody when the father has been violent towards the mother. What's more, a father who has abused his child's mother is actually more likely to pursue full child custody than a father who was not accused of domestic violence.
Domestic abuse often continues after a divorce or separation. Victims who are attempting to separate from their abuser may want to have the assistance of a family law attorney in seeking a restraining order to protect them and their children.