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Alabama Domestic Violence

Overview.

In Alabama domestic violence is a very serious crime with serious punishment and long term consequences. Domestic violence in Alabama is defined as an assault on the victim who is a current or former spouse, parent, child, any person with whom the defendant has a child in common, a present or former household member, or a person who has or had a dating or engagement relationship with the defendant. Domestic violence is broken down into three (3) degrees:

Domestic Violence in the First Degree

  • A person commits the crime of domestic violence in the first degree if the person commits the crime of assault in the first degree, and the victim is a current or former spouse, parent, child, any person with whom the defendant has a child in common, a present or former household member, or a person who has or had a dating or engagement relationship with the defendant.
  • Domestic violence in the first degree is a Class A felony, except that the defendant shall serve a minimum term of imprisonment of one year without consideration of probation, parole, good time credits, or any other reduction in time for any second or subsequent conviction.

Domestic Violence in the Second Degree

  • A person commits the crime of domestic violence in the second degree if the person commits the crime of assault in the second degree, and the victim is a current or former spouse, parent, child, any person with whom the defendant has a child in common, a present or former household member, or a person who has or had a dating or engagement relationship with the defendant.
  • Domestic violence in the second degree is a Class B felony, except the defendant shall serve a minimum term of imprisonment of six months without consideration of probation, parole, good time credits, or any reduction in time for any second or subsequent conviction.

Domestic Violence in the Third Degree

  • A person commits domestic violence in the third degree if the person commits the crime of assault in the third degree; the crime of menacing; the crime of reckless endangerment; the crime of criminal coercion; or the crime of harassment; and the victim is a current or former spouse, parent, child, any person with whom the defendant has a child in common, a present or former household member, or a person who has or had a dating or engagement relationship with the defendant.
  • Domestic violence in the third degree is a Class A misdemeanor, except the defendant shall serve a minimum term of imprisonment of 48 hours in a city or county jail or detention facility without consideration of reduction in time for any second or subsequent conviction.

A conviction of domestic violence can provide the asking party in a divorce with the grounds of cruelty if they so choose to file a fault type divorce. A person who has been convicted of domestic violence could lose custody of their child or placement. The Code of Alabama 1975, states the following with regards to domestic violence and placement or custody:

  • [W]here there is at issue a dispute as to the custody of a child, a determination by the court that domestic or family violence has occurred raises a rebuttable presumption by the court that it is detrimental to the child and not in the best interest of the child to be placed in sole custody, joint legal custody, or joint physical custody with the perpetrator of domestic or family violence. Notwithstanding the provisions regarding rebuttable presumption, the judge must also take into account what, if any, impact the domestic violence had on the child.
  • [W]here there is at issue a dispute as to the custody of a child, a determination by the court that domestic or family violence has occurred raises a rebuttable presumption by the court that it is in the best interest of the child to reside with the parent who is not a perpetrator of domestic or family violence in the location of that parent's choice, within or outside the state.
  • In every proceeding in which there is at issue the modification of an order for custody or visitation of a child, a finding that domestic or family violence has occurred since the last custody determination constitutes a finding of change in circumstances.

With regards to a parent or custodian who has been convicted of domestic violence and visitation with their child The Code of Alabama 1975, states the following:

  • A court may award visitation by a parent who committed domestic or family violence only if the court finds that adequate provision for the safety of the child and the parent who is a victim of domestic or family violence can be made.
  • In a visitation order, a court may take any of the following actions:
    • Order an exchange of the child to occur in a protected setting.
    • Order visitation supervised in a manner to be determined by the court.
    • Order the perpetrator of domestic or family violence to attend and complete to thesatisfaction of the court, a program of intervention for perpetrators or other designated counseling as a condition of visitation.
    • Order the perpetrator of domestic or family violence to abstain from possession or consumption of alcohol or controlled substances during the visitation and for 24 hours preceding the visitation.
    • Order the perpetrator of domestic or family violence to pay a fee to defray the cost of supervised visitation.
    • Prohibit overnight visitation.
    • Require a bond from the perpetrator of domestic or family violence for the return and safety of the child.
    • Impose any other condition that is deemed necessary to provide for the safety of the child, the victim of family or domestic violence, or other family or household member.
  • Whether or not visitation is allowed, the court may order the address of the child or the victim of family or domestic violence to be kept confidential.
  • The court may refer but shall not order an adult who is a victim of family or domestic violence to attend counseling relating to the victim's status or behavior as a victim, individually or with the perpetrator of domestic or family violence as a condition of receiving custody of a child or as a condition of visitation.
  • If a court allows a family or household member to supervise visitation, the court shall establish conditions to be followed during visitation.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence you have options. In a situation where there is abuse you can get a Protection From Abuse Order, which is a court order issued based upon a petition filed under the Protection From Abuse Act (PFA) which provides for limited protection for persons who have been threatened, harassed, or physically abuse by a spouse, former spouse, common-law or former common-law spouse, parent, child, person with whom the you have a child in common, or a present or former household member. Also, if you suspect that your spouse and/or other person with legal right of custody or visitation with your child is abusive we can help with the appropriate filings to protect you and your child. If you have questions about domestic violence we have answers.