Letters for January 27 

Readers sound off on our review of Avatar, Measure WW, and family court.

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And it is predominantly false that women make up allegations of abuse in order to win custody — the opposite is true, thanks to "friendly parent" provisions put into law by fathers' rights advocates. These statutes put an abused woman in a catch-22 situation. If she discloses the abuse, she stands to lose custody to the "friendlier" parent. If she doesn't disclose the abuse, she may lose custody anyway, especially if the father has money. (3)

It's a shame that the media continues to buy into this myth about bias against fathers in family court. Fatherhood supremacists continue to spread this myth without evidence, as if the truth is in the telling — if you say it often enough, people will believe it. The truth is that mothers by the thousands are losing custody of their children based on friendly parent statutes and bogus legal strategies like "parental alienation" (1)(2)(3), and children are being placed into the hands of their abusers. When fathers disobey court orders, nothing happens. When mothers do, in defense of their children, they get thrown in jail by civil court judges, without benefit of a trial, or a jury of her peers. Judges put gag orders on women to prevent them from talking to the media. (4)

We need to fix this broken system. The ideas are too numerous to list here — enforce the laws that are already in place designed to protect victims of domestic violence and provide equal representation, eliminate psychological testing in custody evaluations, and a case has been made for eliminated custody evaluators. (5) For starters we can put caps on what the attorneys and psychologists, social workers, etc. are paid in scandalous custody cases. You'd be amazed how quickly the "bias" will disappear.

Citations:

1. "Are 'Good Enough' Parents Losing Custody to Abusive Ex-Partners"

By Stephanie Dallam -- updated 2008

for the Leadership Council on Child Abuse & Interpersonal Violence. Includes gender bias studies. Dozens of studies are included in this report. http://leadershipcouncil.org/1/pas/dv.html

2. "Domestic Violence (DV) by Proxy:

Why Terrorist Tactics Employed by Batterers Are Not "PAS", Leadership Council, September 2009

http://leadershipcouncil.org/1/pas/DVP.html

"Myths That Place Children At Risk During Custody Litigation",

Dallam. S. J., & Silberg, J. L. (Jan/Feb 2006). Myths that place children at risk during custody disputes. Sexual Assault Report, 9(3), 33-47. (PDF) http://leadershipcouncil.org/1/res/cust_myths.html

Other research cited by Dallam & Silberg:

* American Psychological Association. (1996). Report of the APA Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family , Washington, D.C.: Author.

* Appel, A. E. & G. W. Holden (1998). The Co-occurrence of Spouse and Physical Child Abuse: A Review and Appraisal. Journal of Family Psychology, 12(4): 578-599.

* Bancroft, L., & Silverman, J. (2003). The Batterer as Parent. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

* Bancroft, L., & Silverman, J. (2002). Assessing risk to children from batterers. (http://www.lundybancroft.com/pages/articles_sub/JAFFE.htm)

* Edleson, J. L. (1999). The overlap between child maltreatment and woman battering. Violence Against Women, 5(2), 134-154. (Pdf: http://www.vawnet.org/DomesticViolence/Research/VAWnetDocs/AR_overlap.pdf )

* Feerick, M. M., & Haugaard, J.L. (1999). Long-term Effects of Witnessing Marital Violence for Women: The Contribution of Childhood Physical and Sexual Abuse. Journal of Family Violence, 14(4), 377-398.

* Kernic, M. A ., Wolf, M. E ., Holt, V. L ., McKnight, B ., Huebner, C. E ., & Rivara, F. P. (2003). Behavioral problems among children whose mothers are abused by an intimate partner. Abuse & Neglect, 27(11), 1231-46.

* Jaffe, P. G.,Wolfe, D. A., & Wilson, S. K. (1990). Children of battered women. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

* Paveza, G. (1988). Risk factors in father-daughter child sexual abuse. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 3 (3), 290-306.

* Ross, S. M. (1996). Risk of physical abuse to children of spouse abusing parents. Child Abuse & Neglect, 20(7), 589-98.

* Roy , M. (1988). Children in the crossfire: Violence in the home - how does it affect our children? Deerfield Beach , FL : Health Communications.

* Straus, M. A. (1983). Ordinary violence, child abuse, and wife beating: What do they have in common? In D. Finkelhor, R. J. Gelles, G. T. Hotaling, & M. A. Straus (Eds.), The dark side of families: Current family violence research (pp. 213-234). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

* Wolfe, D. W. Crooks, C. V., Lee, V., McIntyre-Smith, A., & Jaffe, P. G. (2003). The effects of exposure to domestic violence on children: A meta-analysis and critique. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 6, 171-187.

4. Lake County News Sun Headline story 8/31/06 "Gagged!" " 'SHUT UP!' She can't discuss custody case with any third person; including this newspaper" http://icfcr.org/SHUTUP.pdf

News Sun Editorial by David Rutter, Editor, 9/2-9/3/06, "A royal pain won't shut up."

Letters in response to the 8/31 News Sun story, 9/2-9/3/06, Talk of the County.

5. Dore, M. K. (2006) Court-Appointed Parenting Evaluators and Guardians ad Litem: Practical Realities and a Case for Abolition, Divorce Litigation, Volume 18/Number 4, 53-60. http://www.thelizlibrary.org/liz/DoreArticle4-061.pdf, Additional research: http://www.thelizlibrary.org/liz/

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