After a divorce, most state courts will make an effort to allow both parents access to a child. This includes Washington State, which provides that any parent who does not have custody of a child should be granted reasonable visitation rights.

However, there are situations where visitation may be limited or even prohibited if a parent is considered a threat to the child’s well-being. In addition to losing child visitation rights for committing physical or sexual abuse, a parent may lose visitation privileges if he or she:

  • Has been convicted as an adult sex offender
  • Has emotionally abused the child
  • Has a demonstrated history of domestic violence
  • Previously abandoned the child
  • Caused any sort of bodily harm to come to the child

These facts should be presented during divorce proceedings in order to limit the offending parent’s contact with the child. If there is not sufficient evidence to restrict a non-custodial parent’s access, your ex-spouse may be granted limited or supervised visitation rights as part of the divorce’s parenting plan.

If these visits pose a serious threat to the child, you will have to apply for a modification of child custody. This means that you will have to present a motion to modify custody and provide evidence that supports your decision. In order to be effective, you will have to prove that there have been changes that affect the circumstances of the original custody arrangement and that the child will be best served by the modification.

Domestic violence can affect your custody rights years after the abuse has taken place. Click the related links on this page to find out more about how your family could be affected, or fill out the consult box on this page to let us know how to contact you with more information.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington