Law Reform

Many Americans are unaware that our family courts have become the ultimate battleground for perpetrators of abuse to aggressively fight for custody of children as a way of exerting power and control over their victims. Shockingly, courts are more likely to award custody or unsupervised visitation to the male perpetrator in 70 percent of cases. This has resulted in 58,000 children being court-ordered into the unsupervised custody of the abusive parent each year, according to the Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence. These are traumatic family separations between children and their protective mothers. The problem is rampant, and perhaps the most pressing issue in the area of domestic violence reform, as it violates the core principles of human rights.

Why is this problem occurring? There is evidence of bias against women who allege domestic and/or sexual abuse in custody litigation, which is documented and supported by empirical research and data. Another factor is that family courts have increasingly given credence to abusers' claims of parental alienation, though there is no credible scientific evidence supporting this theory, according to the The Presidential Task Force of the American Psychological Association on Violence in the Family and many other experts. It is critical, therefore, that we continue to educate judges, lawyers, legislators and the public, as well as advocate for law reform measures that address gender forms of violence. 

Many batterers' motivation to intimidate and control their victims through the children increases after separation, 

due to the loss of other methods of exerting control.


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Author Lundy Bancroft Explains 

What Batterers are Like as Parents 

and Implications on Child Custody

Clinical Law Professor Joan Meier 

Discusses Bias Against Women

in Child Custody Litigation 

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