Courts take allegations of domestic violence seriously – no matter the age of the accuser or the fame of the accused. In February, the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, affirmed that Maureen McPhilmy should be awarded full custody of the two teenaged children she shares with ex-husband Bill O’Reilly. The Fox News commentator was accused by one of the children, a 17-year-old girl, of physically assaulting McPhilmy. In 2014, a Nassau County, New York Supreme Court justice also found in favor of McPhilmy. O’Reilly appealed, but in light of the appellate ruling must now relinquish the children to his ex-wife and will instead enjoy visitation only on alternate weekends.
According to Towson domestic violence lawyers, the outcome is not entirely unexpected. In addition to their daughter, O’Reilly and McPhilmy are parents to a 13-year-old son. The appeals court deemed the ages and maturity of the children “particularly relevant,” given their “clearly stated” preference to live with their mother full-time. Additionally, the appeals court cited the quality of the home environment which can be provided by McPhilmy, which was deemed preferential over the home environment provided by O’Reilly.
A court can revisit a child custody agreement at any time. When a child witnesses an act of domestic violence, it can invoke strong feelings of fear and a desire to protect their abused parent. Domestic violence allegations alone are not always enough to justify the alteration of a custody agreement. If an abusive spouse has never abused his or her children, a court may allow visits to continue on a modified or supervised basis.
Moreover, even spouses who are not yet divorced are entitled to protection for themselves and their children. An emergency protective order, although temporary, will provide an abused parent with custody and require a spouse to keep their distance. Spouses seeking an emergency protective order must be sure to include custody in their request. Failure to do so can lead to a charge of kidnapping.
Towson Domestic Violence Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Pursue Custody for Abused Spouses
When a former or current spouse has demonstrated a propensity for violence it is natural to want to limit their exposure to minor children. Towson child custody lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles LLC represent victims of domestic violence in their efforts to modify existing child custody agreements. At our Hunt Valley, Pikesville and Towson offices, we represent clients throughout Maryland including Baltimore County, Harford County, Carroll County and Howard County, including Essex, Columbia and Bel Air. Call us today to schedule your free confidential consultation at 443-589-0150 or contact us online for more information.