Co-edited by Mo Therese Hannah and Barry Goldstein © 2010
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, ABUSE and CHILD CUSTODY brings together experts from the US and Canada for a multi-disciplinary review of the most up-to-date research and recommendations for handling, domestic violence custody cases. The book’s 25 chapters are written by those in the know: judges, lawyers, psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists, journalists, domestic violence advocates, and others intimately familiar with the details of these cases. These diverse experts approach the issue through the lens of different disciplines and professional experiences. Although they may not agree on every point, they do agree on at least one thing: that the family court system in this country is broken.
For more than two decades, protective mothers from every state in the country (as well as overseas) have been ordered to turn their children over into the care, and even the custody, of the children’s abusive fathers. This occurs even when there is adequate evidence of child abuse, domestic violence, and other harmful behaviors on the part of the father. Courts claim to be doing this to ensure that both parents remain involved in their children’s lives after divorce or separation, but in fact, in most of these cases, precisely the opposite happens: mothers are denied any meaningful relationship, or even contact, with their children. In the meantime, male supremacist groups claim unfair treatment in the family courts, seeking shared or total custody in order to avoid paying child support and to maintain men’s traditional control over their partner and their children.
We can argue about when we should have known, but today we know the custody court system is destroying the lives of thousands of children. It will continue to do so until it adopts the reforms advocated in this well documented book. As Rita Smith, Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, writes in her Afterward, now that this book has been published, those who continue to use the flawed approaches and practices addressed in this book can only be construed as engaging in professional malpractice.