CHAPTER 9 CHILD CUSTODY PROCEEDINGS
19-9-1. Custody of children; how determined; discretion of court; right of child 14 or over to select custodial parent; consideration of child’s educational needs; when visitation rights may be reviewed; notification of change in residence; application of Article 3 of this chapter.
(a)(1) In all cases in which a divorce is granted, the party not in default shall be entitled to the custody of the minor children of the marriage. However, in all cases in which a divorce is granted, an application for divorce is pending, or a change in custody of a minor child is sought, the court, in the exercise of a sound discretion, may look into all the circumstances of the parties, including improvement of the health of a party seeking a change in custody provisions, and, after hearing both parties, may make a different disposition of the children, placing them, if necessary, in possession of guardians appointed by the judge of the probate court.
(2) In addition to other factors that a court may consider in a proceeding in which the custody of a child or visitation by a parent is at issue and in which the court has made a finding of family violence:
(A) The court shall consider as primary the safety and well-being of the child and of the parent who is the victim of family violence;
(B) The court shall consider the perpetrator’s history of causing physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or causing reasonable fear of physical harm, bodily injury, or assault to another person;
(C) If a parent is absent or relocates because of an act of domestic violence by the other parent, such absence or relocation for a reasonable period of time in the circumstances shall not be deemed an abandonment of the child or children for the purposes of custody determination; and
(D) The court shall not refuse to consider relevant or otherwise admissible evidence of acts of family violence merely because there has been no previous finding of family violence. The court may, in addition to other appropriate actions, order supervised visitation pursuant to Code Section 19-9-7.