Can I Get Full Custody If My Children’s Stepfather Is Abusive?

Ask a Lawyer


My son and daughter have told me that their stepfather is violent and emotionally abusive.

Will the court hear their testimony and listen to their statements without a police report?

How can I get full custody?

Virginia divorce attorney Rebecca DeVincent


In most states, such as Virginia where I practice, custody of children can be modified based on a material change of circumstances and showing that the change is in the children’s best interests.

When a judge is deciding custody and visitation, he or she is making a decision based on the best interests of the children. Most states have a specific list of factors that the judge has to consider when looking at the best interests of your children.

In Virginia, a child’s preference is one factor the judge can consider. However, the child must have reasonable preferences and be of reasonable age — there is no bright-line age at which a child is deemed able to make a decision.

In some states, judges also do not like to have children testify, depending on their ages. You may not be able to tell the judge what your children said, as some of their statements may be considered hearsay.

You should talk to an attorney about the best strategy to get your children’s statements into evidence.

Another factor that judges consider is siblings. Your son and daughter’s relationship is really important, so if the judge finds that it is in one child’s best interests that custody be transferred, the judge will consider the impact of changing custody of both versus separating the children.

If you can prove that the stepfather is actually verbally abusive towards the children, it would be likely that custody of both children would change.

I recommend that you talk to any attorney in your state about the specifics of modifying custody , as well as the best way to introduce evidence of your children’s statements.

Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than tips on your situation, so please consult a domestic litigation attorney in your area to obtain specific advice as to the laws in your state and how they impact your potential case.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney in Virginia, contact Cordell & Cordell.

End of Content Icon

Leave a Reply