Based on a blog written by Barry Goldstein, Esq. and a special thank you to Veronica York, Esq.
Navigating any matter in family court that deals with domestic violence often a uniquely challenging situation. Victims and children involved in these cases often have to fight an uphill battle because of misconceptions that stand unchallenged by the courts.
One of the primary issues with family court cases that involve domestic violence is that courts infrequently rely on domestic violence experts. Instead, judges deal primarily with mental health professionals. Because of this, the courts aren’t always equipped to deal with certain aspects of a domestic violence case.
Misconception: Long-term effects only stem from recent physical violence
Some people, including court officials, mistakenly believe that only recent physical violence affects children in the short term. The truth is that all forms of abuse can lead to long-term trauma for children. Kids don’t even have to be the subjects of the violence. Instead, they can suffer from seeing domestic violence in their home. Witnessing violence can make them feel insecure and stressed, which can affect their performance in school and their social life.
Misconception: A person’s behavior is the same in public and in private
Sometimes, it’s believed that how a person behaves in public is also how they behave in private. This is very misleading because some people who are abusive toward their family members at home are well respected in the community and thought to be upstanding individuals. Because of this, it’s often necessary to be skeptical regarding the testimony of character witnesses if they’re called in such cases.
Misconception: Shared parenting is appropriate for abuse cases
Shared parenting relies heavily on both adults working together to raise their children. The issue with this in abuse cases is that the victim usually feels pressured by the abuser and can’t make decisions truly in the child’s best interests because they’re afraid. Courts have trouble recognizing this because shared parenting is often seen as a faster resolution to a custody case, but it’s one that can lead to the children being placed in an unhealthy situation without hope of genuine relief any time soon.
Ultimately, any victim facing a family court case involving domestic violence should ensure that they seek legal guidance from an attorney who understands the misconceptions and will push back against them – hard. Fighting for one’s future and safety must remain a domestic victim’s priority in these situations.