If a parent in Pennsylvania has committed domestic violence in the past, it still may be possible for that parent to win custody or visitation of a child. While a judge will have to take the act into consideration, it will be but one of many factors considered. In many cases, a judge will create an order that provides protection for the other parent or for the child during periods of contact.
For instance, a judge may order that any visitation occurs while supervised by a third party. It may also be ordered that the child is dropped off or picked up at a public place such as a police station. Alternatively, a judge may not order any protections for the parent or child when making a custody or visitation order. It is also possible that a parent with an abusive history will need to undergo counseling prior to winning custody or visitation rights.
If a parent has a history of especially violent crimes, the law may require the judge to use that as a basis to deny custody or visitation rights. However, the burden of proving that a parent is a safety risk to a child may be borne proportionally by both parties. In such cases, it may be worthwhile to seek legal counsel prior to asking a judge to deny the other parent custody or visitation.
Anyone who is in a custody and visitation dispute may wish to seek the counsel of a family law attorney who may be able to establish that awarding sole custody to a parent may be in the best interest of the child. In some cases, it may be possible for an attorney to convince a judge to provide protection to the child or to the custodial parent as a condition of awarding visitation.
Source: Women's Law, "Can a parent who committed violence get custody or visitation?", December 29, 2014