Domestic Violence

Violence and the Law - Civil

Will They Take My Children From Me?

Battering partners are often not determined to be such, either because the spouse victim has not reported their battering, or because the criminal justice system has not yet become involved in their case. As a result, victims who break away and seek a divorce as a means of ending the relationship often face a battering spouse who is: (1) vindictive; and (2) sees the children as a means of obtaining revenge on the victim.

As a result, in the divorce proceedings, unless the battering is established to be significant to the court, couples are often awarded joint custody of children. Especially in today's family law courts, the husband is no longer routinely dismissed from custody considerations. The problem is that the court never learns the extent of the battering, and the children end up suffering.

Studies show that children who are hustled between divorced parents are likely to encounter differences in parental behavior. As an example, one spouse may be domineering, while the other is less structured and controlling. Their children may become confused in their actions, since each parent may demand different behavior. Also, as they grow older, the children will adapt and learn to exploit each parent's weaknesses, often to the detriment of the victim. Knowing the children may be manipulative, and not knowing how to obtain help, may lead a victim to stay married and in a relationship that may be destructive to her/him.

Additionally, abusive fathers, whose primary motivation is often to obtain revenge on the victim who instituted the divorce proceedings, may learn to manipulate the children so as to cause continued grief to the victim. The scene of one parent who sees their children two times per month giving them everything, forgetting about discipline and "becoming their friend," all while the other spouse has to be the "disciplinarian" can be a common one today.

What may be important to initiate, especially for the divorced victim, is serious therapy and counseling for themselves and their children, so that the counselor may help to determine remedies for dealing with the negative behavior engaged in by one spouse. If possible, counseling for the batterer may also be productive, at least as it respects the children's growth and emotions.

Violence and the Law - Civil
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