Child custody disputes are not fun for anyone, even in a relationship that was relatively functional during the duration of the marriage. The stakes inevitably raise, along with discomfort and stress, when domestic violence gets involved.
Categorically, history of abuse from another spouse does not guarantee that you will win the custody battle. But on the plus side, it is extremely unlikely that you will lose.
Filing for a 209A Abuse Prevention Order
State laws in Massachusetts requires a judge to consider abuse when making decisions about child custody. Because of this, the non-abusive spouse will almost always have an edge in a custody battle with the exception of mitigating factors. It does not matter if the abuser targeted the spouse or the child; the court will hold it in equal weight.
First, consider filing for a 209A Abuse Prevention Order, or a restraining order. This grants you temporary custody, as well as prevents your spouse from making contact with you. It also shows proof of the danger that your spouse poses to you, and the potential trauma they may cause your child.
Collecting evidence of abuse
It helps to have physical proof of the abuse as well, though this is not necessary. Consider attempting to collect evidence that may help your case, though. This can include photographs, medical records, emails, text messages, security footage and other items that you can use to corroborate your claims.
Note that a court may still grant an abuser custody, but the judge must provide a clear reason for the decision. Factors that can lead to this may include the abuse happening in the distant past with the abuser showing signs of reform, or if the violence in question had mitigating factors involved.