The Intersection Between Family Law and Criminal Law

Family law and criminal law often intersect, and it’s important for individuals going through family disputes to understand this complexity. In many family cases, there’s usually a divorce, child support, child custody, or paternity determination issue. However, domestic problems can extend beyond these common disputes.

Sometimes, the conflict between families can become acrimonious, leading to an assault or battery. Other times a parent may face a different criminal charge that affects an existing or pending court order. There are also juvenile criminal cases that family courts handle. The potential scenarios of family and criminal law interactions are numerous.

This article focuses on domestic violence cases and how the court resolves them. However, if you’re involved in a family dispute that you think may have a criminal undertone, it’s vital to discuss with family lawyers in Media, PA.

Domestic Violence Cases

Cases involving domestic violence are the most common types of issues that cause family and criminal law to interact. If an assault, disorderly conduct, or other criminal charge involves a crime against family members, such cases are considered domestic issues.

For instance, if one parent assaults the other or abuses a child, the law considers the case as domestic assault rather than just assault. In such situations, family lawyers Media PA, can help file an order of protection from abuse or restraining order. This order ensures that the accused party won’t contact the victim- either the child or the spouse.

Besides a restraining order, a domestic offense can also attract court charges since it’s a criminal conviction. Some domestic crimes even carry harsher penalties than similar crimes against non-family members. Penalties for domestic abuse crimes may include a fine, incarceration, restitution payment to the victim, and counseling classes.

Enforcing the Best Interest of the Child

A restraining order usually has an effect on the family, especially when there are kids. The accused may be evicted from the family home and cut off from any form of direct or indirect communication with the victim. In cases where the accused is the sole provider, the family may experience financial challenges, especially before a support order kicks in.

The criminal justice system doesn’t consider the dynamics of the family relationship. However, the focus of a family court is usually the best interest of the child. Therefore, a family judge will strive to find a balance to enhance the parent-child relationship. If the court determines that cutting off communication with the parent is best for the child, the restraining order will remain.

However, in a few cases, the judge may advise for a lifting of the restraining order. A typical scenario is if the assault was toward a parent rather than the child, not occurring more than once and in the child’s presence. The court may grant the erring parent visitation rights. This move helps to facilitate the child’s relationship with both parents.


Family court proceedings often intersect with criminal law in different ways. However, family courts consider the impact of criminal proceedings on the family relationship and focus on the child’s best interest. If you’re going through a family dispute that involves a domestic crime, contact family lawyers in Media, PA, for help.