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Jan 11th, 2006
Protest Over Right to Custody in Domestic Abuse Cases
Activists protested last week outside the New York state capitol on behalf of women who do not get fair treatment in the family law courts. The organization focuses its protest efforts on the injustices in the court system regarding the issue of domestic violence and child custody. According to the spokesperson for the Protective Parents Association of the Northeast, the demonstration was intended to, “expose the problems mothers face in our justice system while seeking to protect themselves and their children from abusive fathers.”
While fathers are not the only potential abusers, evidence shows that men are most commonly the perpetrators of domestic violence. They are also the ones with the money. When family law courts are not willingly to fairly assess each side of the story in a child custody case, the abusive father can end up with full custody instead of the mother. Many activists and other advocates will not tolerate this injustice.
According to State President Marcia Pappas, “What is happening in the courts all over the country is when a mother is going for a divorce…and she wants full custody, there are judges now who are turning the tables on women who are trying to protect their kids and giving custody to the abusive parent.”
Some experts state that as many as 75 percent of all cases handled in family law courts involve some form of domestic violence. Of these cases, as high as two-thirds of the child custody rulings give custody to the abusive parent.
Fathers’ rights groups are not having any of this. Randy Dickinson, of the Coalition of Fathers and Families says the activists are “disseminating disingenuous misrepresentations and outright lies.” He claims that over 90 percent of all custody rights go to the mother in the state of New York and elsewhere.
While the battle may rage between interest groups, the real problems are coming out of focus. The family law courts have one standard they are required to apply to all child custody cases across the board: to put the best interests of the child above all else. Whether this means the father or mother receives child custody is irrelevant, some say. What is cause for concern, however, is when family law judges fail to apply this standard properly in child custody cases, especially those involving domestic abuse. That is when the true protesting should begin.