Custody Battles and the Impact on Children
Erroneous Handling of Abuse Cases and the Often Silent (or Silenced) Victims Caught In-Between
Custody battles, often fraught with emotion, have implications that stretch beyond the immediate parties involved.
The often hidden casualties are the children — silently enduring the process, absorbing its reverberations, and living the consequences.
In cases intertwined with allegations of abuse, the stakes are exponentially higher, and the potential for missteps, more profound.
It is my experience (having formerly practiced law for the better part of a decade), that family court systems, meant to serve as an impartial mediator, frequently misapprehends the nuanced intricacies of abuse, both physical and psychological.
What seems to be an objective evaluation often falls victim to deep-rooted biases, perpetuating myths surrounding abuse, victimhood, and credibility.
The guiding principle of custody decisions is in most jurisdictions legislation, often stated to be the “best interests of the child.”
While the meaning of this should be clear on the surface, there are in fact a myriad of ways in which this can be interpreted — with such interpretation at the discretion of the judges, lawyers, and evaluators involved in family court cases.
In abuse-laden cases, the ambiguity can lead to devastating consequences.
For example, is it in the best interest of a child to maintain relations with both parents, even when one is an abuser?
Where should the line be drawn?
My personal perspective — and experience — is that women and children are often not believed (either wholly or at all), and that even where they are believed, societal norms mean that protection is most often not offered or provided as it needs to be.
I’ve also previously written on how abuse often does not leave visible scars.
Psychological abuse, including coercive control, manipulation, and gaslighting, is harder to evidence but equally, if not more, damaging.