Can we bring justice to family courts? That’s a highly political question, and I think the answer has more to do with the nature of the human beings behind the system and the misconceptions of those using the system to seek safety.
We hear of battered women falling through the cracks of the system as much as those securing safety through the system. It is clear that those who fall through the cracks typically are in proceedings with a batter fortified with aggressive counsel, or being victimized by counsel, and in some cases both.
Thus, as long as divorce law is about one party annihilating another, mindless of the interest of children and family as a whole, then economically disadvantaged survivors of domestic abuse are subject to system failures.
Is Family Court the Proper Place to Seek Remedy for Domestic Violence?
It is also true that part of the dilemma is that divorce court is actually not the proper jurisdiction to secure remedy for domestic abuse. In divorce court in which there is a “no fault” presumption, responsibility for the marital dissolution is spread across the marriage.
The implication of this is that the perpetrator is given an umbrella to hide under and a way to deflect assuming responsibility for the battering behavior. Further and more equally serious, the victim is expected to shoulder aspects of the battering relationship that technically do not belong to her/him. And even worse is the ongoing legal permission to re-victimize the victim through legal judicial and psychiatric ploys.
How Can Legal Domestic Abuse Be Legal?
You know that abuse is about control. Well, so is litigation. Two parties in a legal action are essentially fighting for control, and the perpetrator thrives in this arena.
Now when there’s a gross disparity of income between the parties and when the perpetrator controls the family purse strings, which is often the case in these relationships/situations, then the litigation can really be controlled because he who pays will most likely drive the litigation.
This party can taunt, torment and terrorize his/her opposition with legal stalking, financial starve out tactics and with the threat of custody litigation. Abusers know nothing will devastate their victims as much as seeing their children endangered. So they use the threat of obtaining custody to extract agreements to their liking. And this can go on indefinitely.
So instead of looking to change the family court system, or expect the family court to serve you differently, see it for what it is and seek to employ other strategies in conjunction with family court to arrest the domestic abuse and secure safety for yourself and your children.