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Amy M. Levine
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Groups examine prejudice against battered mothers

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Women in Franklin County, who are victims of abuse at the hands of their boyfriend, spouse or significant other, may face an uphill battle for custody if children are involved. This is because, while domestic violence is no longer hidden in the shadows, many courts still operate under the impression that battered women’s claims are an attempt to alienate the children from their other parent, usually a father, and therefore are to be disregarded. This is the argument being made at a conference recently held at George Washington University Law School, according to The Washington Post.

The gathering, called the Battered Mothers Custody Conference, has been taking place for the past 10 years, assembling experts, advocates and victims of domestic violence to discuss how to change a legal system they say still doesn’t believe mothers’ claims.

Abusive fathers fight harder for custody

The Advocates for Human Rights say that abusers will often fight harder for child custody in an effort to further inflict abuse upon the mother. While the physical violence may have ceased, abusers continue to harass their victims by dragging them through the court system, filing countless motions and doing everything they can to show that the mother is the aggressor with claims of parental alienation. They will engage in legal battles that last for months and even years, leaving their victims emotionally and financially broken. However, the fact is that often abusive spouses do not take an interest in their children and in 30-60 percent of cases, may subject them to abuse as well.

Court beliefs about domestic violence allegations

In 2011, the University of Michigan presented a report to the U.S. Department of Justice concerning the beliefs that child custody evaluators, judges, legal aid and private attorneys and domestic violence program workers have when it comes to child custody and domestic violence claims. The findings of the report indicate that many professionals still disbelieve battered mothers but that old beliefs are slowly changing.

Among the findings:

  • Professionals with history or personal knowledge of domestic violence were more likely to believe a battered mother.
  • Judges, custody evaluators and private attorneys were less likely to believe a battered mother.
  • 40 percent of evaluators were still willing to recommend joint custody in half their cases where one parent was clearly the abuser.
  • Female evaluators believe the battered mother more than their male counterparts.
  • Evaluators who understood domestic violence and had undergone specialized training favored sole custody to the battered mother.

The study does show that attitudes towards battered mothers are beginning to shift as court professionals acquire more education about domestic violence and its effect on victims. Many states have even set up special family courts for cases involving domestic violence with staff that has been trained and prepared in how to handle such situations. If you are the victim of domestic violence, you should meet with an experienced attorney who can help you use the legal system to protect your children.

Amy M. Levine
View Profile

Our Latest Blog Posts

What are the valid reasons to contest a will?

There are four reasons an Ohio judge will consider as grounds for invalidating a person's will. They include fraud, undue influence on the testator, and a lack of understanding on the part of the testator. Finally, if a will is not structured properly under state law,...

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The death of a loved one brings challenging times and significant responsibilities for the family members left behind. If you have recently lost someone, you may have numerous questions about the probate process and what to expect. The details below may help you...

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In most cases, Ohio law will allow both parents to have relationships with their children after a divorce. Therefore, it's likely that you will interact with your former partner on a regular basis even after dissolving your marriage to that person. Fortunately, there...

What happens right after filing for personal bankruptcy?

Many people who are considering filing for bankruptcy in Ohio have read about what bankruptcy can do for them in the long term. After completing the whole bankruptcy process, most of your debts will probably be wiped clean, and you can then start the process of...

Visit Our Blog

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