In a trend that started in the 1980s, and increasingly since then, family court judges across the U.S. have ordered thousands and thousands of children into unsupervised visitation with abusive biological fathers. In many cases, mothers have been denied any form of custody, with some losing all contact with their children. In the last few years, attorneys and social service advocates have met to address this issue at the annual Battered Mother’s Custody Conference. This book brings together the expertise and perspective of more than thirty contributors to BMCC in a comprehensive resource that arms advocates with the best thinking and most effective legal strategies in the battle to protect mothers and families from a system that often fails to address abuse and sometimes actually worsens the problem.
Domestic Violence, Abuse, and Child Custody presents insights and hands-on practice guidance from the leading experts on child custody cases that involve intimate partner violence and child abuse. Chapter authors address the prevalence of these problems, the complex reasons why protective mothers lose custody of their children, the things court agents and other professionals often do that contribute to bad outcomes, and the corrective measures that must be put into place to ensure legal protections for abused women and their children.
Written with the expressed goal of helping battered mothers assert their rights to a safe family life free from violence, the contributors to this book take a firm stand against so-called “balanced” points of view that attempt to explain or justify abusive behavior. This book is grounded in the belief that battering is never justified, and batterers are not entitled to “equal rights” to custody when the safety of a child is in question. Advocates who share that view will find this book a uniquely compelling ally in protecting and defending the rights of battered mothers.