Do battered mothers face uphill battle in custody cases?

Domestic violence is a serious problem but battered mothers often find custody professionals unsympathetic to their situation.

While divorce is difficult enough for people in Philadelphia to go through, it can be even more challenging when there are children involved. If there are allegations of domestic violence, the abused parent, usually the mother, may face an uphill battle in seeking custody of her children.

Systemic issues

Every year, the battered mothers custody conference is held down in Washington, D.C. The Washington Post states that the purpose of the meetings is to encourage communication between experts, victims of domestic violence and advocates concerning the family court where systemic issues often exist. As part of the conference, speakers point out cases where the courts failed to protect children.

The pattern is the same: a battered mother lost her fight in keeping the father from accessing the children and the children were then murdered by the father. The women ended up losing custody because their claims are either dismissed or the court insisted on a shared custody arrangement.

Court professionals and domestic violence claims

A report submitted to the United States Department of Justice reveals that many court professionals still have beliefs that prejudice them against women who claim they are victims of violence. The report was based off of a survey conducted among judges, child custody evaluators, survivors of domestic violence and domestic violence workers from across the country.

The results of the survey showed that those people who had no personal experience or education on domestic violence were less inclined to believe the claims when compared to people who either went through some type of awareness training or knew someone who was a survivor. Additionally, many child custody evaluators stated that even in cases where domestic violence was evident, they would still make the recommendation that the abuser and the victim share custody, believing that it was in the best interest of the children. Over 1100 people participated in the survey.

Abusive fathers and custody

It is a well-documented fact that abuse is about control and this is also the case when it concerns abusive fathers seeking custody of their children. The Advocates for Human Rights states that the courts give the abusers the opportunity to further harass and retain control over the victims. As such, they will aggressively pursue custody of the children more than a father who is not abusive.

It is not uncommon for abusers to escalate their actions against their victims and use the children as weapons. They tend to use the focus on what is in the child's best interest to their advantage, but they often are uninvolved in their children's lives. It also works to their advantage when their victims object to the shared parenting agreement because the mothers are often seen by the courts as being uncooperative.

There is no doubt that a custody dispute for people in Pennsylvania can be a difficult and trying experience. They may find it helpful to discuss their situation with an experienced attorney.