Daily Archives: October 26, 2016

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Divorce and Separation

Domestic Violence: Child Custody and Family Law

Domestic violence can have devastating effects on children. Batterers often use children to manipulate their partners. While the relationship continues, batterers may threaten to take custody of, kidnap or harm the children if the victim reports the abuse. After a battered woman leaves a relationship, batterers may use child custody disputes, visitation and joint custody arrangements as opportunities to threaten, intimidate, coerce and harm their former partners. From Kendall Segel-Evans, Wife Abuse and Child Custody and Visitation by the Abuser (1989). For a long time, domestic violence was not considered relevant to custody and visitation determinations. As explained in more detail in the Toolkit to End Violence Against Women, created by the National Advisory Council on Violence Against Women and the United States Department of Justice’s Violence Against Women Office, available in PDF and text formats, judges making custody determinations “routinely concluded that violence toward the other parent had nothing to do with one’s ability to adequately parent, and most court decisions revealed that judges did not believe that domestic or sexual abuse of one parent by the other fundamentally compromised the interests of the children.” As the Toolkit explains further, because of the ways in which batterers can use […]