Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence

Nobody believes that domestic violence kills and nobody believes it is detrimental to children. This world has got to wake up. To me, if there is domestic violence, if the children see it or hear it, that to me is detrimental. Batterers should not have rights to children.

~Denise Brown (sister of the late Nicole Brown-Simpson)

Sadly, domestic violence has invaded homes across America. When domestic violence has seeped into a couple’s relationship or the family as a whole, the members of the family must be on guard throughout the pendency of the dissolution proceedings. This is not the time to make excuses for the offending spouse; this is the time to admit the past abuse for what it was: intolerable and inexcusable. If you believe that the offending spouse will re-offend or has re-offended, it may be necessary for you to obtain an Order of Protection, an Injunction Against Harassment, or an Emergency Order of Protection if the court is closed for business.

Impact of Domestic Violence on Children

Often, families are under the misconception that if it is only the parent being battered by the offending spouse (not the children), then the abuse is confined to the abused parent. This is not the case. Domestic violence in a home with children will impact their lives forever. The following facts demonstrate the need for parents, families, communities and the courts to take domestic violence against a spouse seriously.

Children whose mothers are victims of wife battery are twice as likely to be abused themselves, as compared to those children whose mothers are not victims of abuse.vii

In about 43 percent of households where intimate partner violence occurs the couples have children under the age of 12.viii

A recent study of low-income, pre-school children in Michigan found that nearly half (46.7 percent) of the children in the study had been exposed to at least one incident of mild or severe violence in the family. Children who had been exposed to violence suffered symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder such as bed- wetting or nightmares, and were at greater risk than their peers of having allergies, asthma, gastrointestinal problems, headaches and flu.ix

Battered women are not the only victims of abuse–it is estimated that anywhere between 3.3 million and 10 million children witness domestic violence annually. Research demonstrates that exposure to violence can have serious negative effects on children’s development.x

At least 85 percent of children who live in violent homes are eyewitnesses, attempt to intervene, and/or experience the violence from behind closed doors.xi

When children witness violence in the home, they have been found to suffer many of the symptoms that are experienced by children who are directly abused.xii

In spite of evidence of violence against women and/or their children, the courts consistently ordered sole or joint decision-making to perpetrators in 74 percent of the cases in Maricopa County and 56 percent of the of the cases in the other counties combined.xiii

The Impact of Domestic Violence on Decision-making Determinations

Although courts should consider evidence of domestic violence at every point in decision-making and visitation negotiations, there is no guarantee that judges will do so.

Women often report that violence plays a significant role in divorce proceedings, specifically regarding the issues of decision-making, visitation and child support.xiv

Partner violence is a factor in anywhere from a third or a half of the cases where decision-making is disputed.xv

In disputed family court cases, somewhere between 15 percent and 25 percent show substantiating evidence of physical abuse, such as prior arrest, criminal court finding or court order.xvi

Many abusers appear to use the legal system to maintain contact and harass their ex-partners, at times using extensive and lengthy litigation.xvii

Many women compromise on their demands for resources during divorce negotiations for fear of losing decision-making of their children.xviii

In cases of domestic violence, fathers who contest decision-making win sole or joint decision-making up to 70 percent of the time.xix

Joint decision-making precludes separation between a victim and her abuser, because the parents must transfer children and have joint decision-making. This ongoing communication provides excessive, yet legally required, opportunities for the batterer to continue his abuse.xx

Courts seem to ignore abuse and privilege the father-child relationship despite the danger, concluding that father estrangement is more traumatic to children than paternal abuse and giving decision-making of the children to the abuser.xxi

In spite of evidence of violence against women and/or their children, the courts consistently ordered sole or joint decision-making to perpetrators in 74 percent of the cases in Maricopa County and 56 percent of the cases in the other counties combined.xxii

Next: Orders of Protection

There are four different types of Orders that may be filed: Order of Protection, Emergency Order of Protection, an Injunction Against Harassment and Injunction Against Workplace Harassment. Relevant orders pertaining to domestic violence are the Order of Protection, Emergency Order of Protection or an injunction Against Harassment. Order of Protection Protection Orders are orders prohibiting...

Read More >