Child custody: domestic violence a relevant factor

Getting divorced is never a pleasant endeavor. There are a myriad of issues to confront, including child custody, child support, property division and spousal maintenance -- just to name a few. When minor children are involved, the stakes can be increased, running parallel to heightened emotions. That is particularly true when a couple continues to live together under the same roof while proceedings are pending. Maryland readers may be interested to know that NFL great and Hall of Famer Deion Sanders and his wife appear to be experiencing some turmoil that as they struggle to resolve their pending divorce proceedings.

In an incident that could have child custody implications, Pilar Sanders was arrested on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge on April 23. While details are a bit fuzzy, the basic allegation is the she and a friend broke into Deion's bedroom in the house they share and allegedly attacked him in front of their children. She has proclaimed her innocence, but a judge ordered that she stay away from the house for 60 days. Since the children appear to live in the home, the court order will necessarily limit her time with the children as both the divorce proceedings and now pending criminal charge work their way through the court system. For her part, Pilar has complained of bias against her due to the fact that her husband is a star athlete enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

While it remains to be seen how the criminal charges will be resolved, they could have an impact on any child custody dispute as the matter moves forward. If the couple is not able to agree about custody, a court will necessarily make that determination. As is true in similar cases in Maryland, a court will consider what is in the best interests of the children involved. Evidence of domestic violence may tip the scales in favor of the parent able to control their actions and emotions in admittedly difficult times.

While divorce can drive people to commit irrational actions, it is critical that a parent consider the implications of all actions because they can be sure that their actions will be reflected in the outcome of custody proceedings.

Source: Yahoo! Sports, "Deion Sanders' estranged wife denies attacking him," April 24, 2012