Although many Missouri courts operate under the belief that children generally benefit the most when both parents remain in their lives, there are certain circumstances where this can be detrimental. For example, children could be at risk if the courts give custody rights to an abusive or violent parent. Even so, the courts are simply not set up to properly ensure that all children with abusive parents remain safe.
Abusers often try to use the children to maintain control over the other parent. This can be done by suing for their custodial rights, even if they have no actual interest in their children. In some cases, abusers who have custodial rights can use these rights to harass the other parent or attempt to control them by preventing them from moving on with their lives. They may also attempt to manipulate the children by threatening the other parent or telling them that other parent is bad.
When parents who have been abused leave, they often just assume that they will retain primary custody of the children. However, this is sometimes not the case as the abuser's history may not be considered relevant. Reports have even showed that abusers are able to convince the court that the other parent does not deserve sole custody in about 70 percent of cases.
Going through a child custody battle when the other parent has a history of abuse and violence can be extremely difficult. Because abusers are often manipulative, they may be able to seek joint or even sole custody if the other parent is not properly prepared. A family law attorney may help a parent seek custody by providing evidence of the abuser's past to the court's attention.