DomesticViolence and Divorce
DomesticViolence and Divorce
Ithas been reported that approximately 50 percent of marriages in theUnited States will end in divorce. Also, more than two millionchildren are affected each year by divorce. Disputes over childcustody are the most contested process when going through theseprocedures. When intimate partner violence is a factor, children areexposed to a hostile situation. The existence of spousal violenceconsiderably sways divorce matters, which in turn makes followingcustody and visitation laws a difficult and somewhat unsafe task.
Theobjective of this literature review will be to provide an overview ofhow domestic violence has been handled traditionally in family courtsand changes that have surfaced more recently. Consideration will begiven to how spousal violence affects custody disputes. The paperwill also examine the risks and potential damages to the victims. Amore thorough examination to whether spousal abuse can transfer tochild abuse will be explored as well. I will attempt to answer thequestion of whether spousal violence should determine the residenceof the child and look at the possibility of rehabilitation foroffenders. A considerable focus will also be on the differencebetween male vs. female offenders and how the gender-based biasesinfluence custody disputes and how they are handled through thecourts. Does the court hold the bias against the offender and if sohow does it affect the outcomes of these decisions? Overall thefactors that influence domestic violence cases and custody disputeswill be researched as well as the outcomes of these cases.
HowDomestic Violence has been Handled Traditionally in Family Courts andChanges that have surfaced more recently
Domesticviolence rarely resulted in divorce before the twentieth century, andif it happened, Spohn and Hemmens (2012) assert that cases regardingdomestic conflicts were traditionally handled in different civil andcriminal courts. In some countries, men were allowed to beat women inthe past as a way of disciplining them in cases that women wereregarded as disrespectful to their intimate partners. In such cases,the law provided various measures that men were to apply whenbattering the women. The law changed as time passed by and women weregranted more rights that included owning property, as well as takingtheir husbands to court if they felt that they were battered for noreason. They could be listened to in courts. The courts offered themprotection in case they requested for their personal information notto be disclosed to the abusers. Conversely, the domestic abusedefendants were somewhat more liable to be convicted and providedwith longer prison terms than the defendants who were non-domesticabusers.
However,there has been an increasing awareness in the past decades thatdomestic assault is a severe problem in the society as many spousesask for a divorce if the situation worsens. Many scholars haveconducted studies on the subject and collected empirical data thatindicates the growing number of single parents, especially women,whose causes are due to severe domestic assault by their spouses. Thecontinued spousal abuse eventually transfers to child abuse, and thesafety of such children get endangered. On the other hand, the systemof the criminal justice has experienced critical changes in reactionto domestic conflicts. Lots of attention has been placed on how theenforcement of the law responds to domestic abuse such as laws on themandatory arrest. The courts that deal with criminal cases haveexperienced a growth in processing the cases of domestic violence inthe past ten years (Spohn & Hemmens, 2012). An increase in thedomestic abuse awareness that has also resulted in a rise in thecaseloads has pushed the judicial systems to look for innovativetechniques to deal with such cases.
Presently,specialized courts have been put up as an additional effective way todeal with the domestic assaults between intimate partners. Theestablishment of the courts that deal with domestic cases hasimproved judiciary’s reaction to this subject by enhancingcoordination between the social service agencies and the criminaljustice (Spohn & Hemmens, 2012). The courts can also adequatelyaddress the victims’ needs, as well as hold the defendantsresponsible. The specialized courts apply an approach of therapeuticjurisprudence to courtroom impartiality. In essence, such an approachemphasizes the safety of the victim and also requires the offender tobe accountable. Additionally, it requires the individuals who are incharge of decision making to deliberate on the possible consequencesand benefits of their decision on the persons involved.
Accordingto Spohn and Hemmens (2012), some experts in the specialized courtsapply a multi-agency strategy as the most effective approach to dealwith cases of domestic abuse. Other courts like the family courts,juvenile courts, and drug courts stress the need for handling thecases of domestic abuse with exceptional consideration. Also, theyhave to distinguish and separate their procedures from the proceduresthat were applied by the customary criminal courts. Some of theprocedures regarding the specialized practices by the courts includethe use of specific units for domestic abuse, specialized judges, andcourt calendars that are separate from other cases (Spohn &Hemmens, 2012). The more present approximations indicate that morethan three hundred courts have seen the significance of specialattention to the cases of domestic abuse by integrating specializedstructure and processing within the existing systems of judiciary.
Severalauthorities have implemented domestic abuse courts though no uniformdescription directs legal performances within the courts. However,there are a few published outcomes or processes analysis studies ofsuch courts that can guide the local jurisdictions that arefascinated in executing this form of specialized courts (Spohn &Hemmens, 2012). The intention of the specialized courts is tostructure the sentences of the offenders towards a rehabilitativeprogram, but not a custodial sentence. Such a strategy is to assistthe offenders in attending the treatment programs that arecommunity-based since the programs focus on the root of the problemand the control of their abusive character. The courts’ focus is toincrease collaboration from many agencies that works towards thedelivery of a useful response to the family conflict issues. As such,the family conflict recidivism has been reduced to a larger extentdue to the joint efforts between the organizations that holdoffenders answerable, and advocate for victim participation.
HowSpousal Violence Affects Custody Disputes
Therole of the decisions regarding child custody is to create a pactthat suits the child’s interest by giving both or one of thenatural parents the child when the parents divorce or separate. Thestandard that is applied to establish a child’s best interestincludes a deliberation on the relations that impact on the infant.For example, a relationship that experiences domestic violenceimpacts a child directly, though it is seldom incorporated indecisions regarding custody. The tendencies of an abusive batterertowards his woman are not treated as distinct and separate from therelationship of the batterer to his child (Conte, 2014). However, thecourts should find it essential to discard such notions as causing anunfair impact on domestic conflict victims by ruling that domesticabuse is relevant to decisions on custody since a man who mistreatshis woman is most likely not to be a good parent. Such an assumptionis relevant because ill-treatment of a woman who is a mother to aman’s child is almost same as child abuse. Not all the domesticconflicts result in a divorce, and thus, the abuser can still get achance to abuse the woman through visitation or joint custody.Therefore, judges should consider battering and its effects onchildren as evidence when crafting their decisions on child custody.
Accordingto Statsky (2014), there is presently no consistency among the statesas to the deliberation provided to domestic abuse in the decisionsabout child custody. California has made huge progress in recognizingthe purpose that domestic abuse plays in the decisions of childcustody. Conversely, the Family Code of California that was amendedjust for years ago obliges judges to modestly reflect on domesticconflicts when determining a child’s best interests. The state alsoapplies the standard of a child’s best interest with a fondness ofjoint custody. The Code further stipulates that a judge must regardas critical the abuse history by a parent, or any individual in questof custody. Additionally, the judge has to find out if the parent whoseeks custody has an engagement or a dating relationship. As arequirement to the deliberation of the abuse claims, the Code assertsfurther that the court may need considerable self-sufficientjustification.
Presently,AB 200 states that it is a requirement for the court to outline itsreasons in writing when making an order for a joint or sole custodyto an abusive parent due to the amendment to the Code’s section3011 (Shipley & Arrigo, 2012). A judge still preserves similarjudgment regarding the weight to provide to the domestic violenceclaims, though he has to memorialize the grounds for giving custodyto the person who is accused regardless of the claims. The victimscan win the cases of custody on appeal if the reasons of the judgeare codified as the victims will have additional evidence than justthe discretion abuse as the ground for an appeal. The amendment toSection 3004 of the California Code that provides definition to thejoint custody stresses that parents shall share the joint custody insuch a manner as to reassure a child of continuing and frequentcontact with his parents. It means that the joint custody that has acontinuing contact will not be favored if it does not guarantee thechild’s best interest, or if it does not guarantee the child’swelfare, safety, and health.
TheCode also outlines in its section 3040 the preference order in givingcustody. It states that the court has to consider the parent who ismore probable to let the child continually and frequently be in touchwith the parent who is noncustodial (Statsky, 2014). Additionally,before assessing a parent within this provision that proves friendlyto parents, the child’s best interest, welfare, safety, and healthmust be put into consideration. The section recognizes that theprovision that requires a parent to be friendly does not support thedomestic violence victim who is making an attempt to be free from theabuser.
Shipleyand Arrigo (2012) write in their book that mediation is also animportant approach that has been applied in California in attempts todetermine custody disputes. On the contrary, mediation has beenineffective and dangerous in scenarios of the existence of domesticviolence since useful mediation needs voluntary involvement, samerepresentation quality, equal negotiating power, and equalinvolvement in the result. California allows spouses to get togetherindependently with mediators and investigators to prevail over thehurdles that are inherent in the process of mediation for the spousewho is abused.
Domesticviolence evidence has to be a rebuttable presumption in opposition tocustody. No person in the U.S has been licensed to beat his spouseand escape punishment. Additionally, no woman is under obligation tobe beaten and suffer (Conte, 2014). California courts are needed todeem domestic abuse as a factor when evaluating a child’s bestinterest. Conversely, a rebuttable presumption against giving custodyto abusers in the existence of evidence regarding domestic violencehas been adopted by twelve states in America. The routine suppositionsymbolizes an approach that is more progressive to decisions aboutcustody where domestic violence has been evident. With thesupposition, the victim no longer has the burden to prove a possibledanger to the child, as well as the connection between a child abuseand wife abuse. The supposition that opposes joint custody makes itknown that the victim’s abuse may go on through an arrangement ofjoint custody, and thus, an abuser is not fit to be granted custody.
TheRisks and Potential Damages to the Victims
Accordingto Certain (2016), it is anticipated that about 830,000 males and 1.5million females go through a sexual or physical assault that isinitiated by their intimate partners on a yearly basis in America.Additionally, millions of children in America live in families thatexperience domestic abuse, and approximately half of the children getto see brutal sadism in a parent’s assault. Children’s exposureto domestic abuse destabilizes their emotional and physicaldevelopment. As such, they are placed at an increased risk ofsuffering from emotional and physical diseases, as well asdisabilities when they become adults. Domestic abuse on children hasvarious effects that include physical, social, and neuroendocrine orbehavioral consequences. Such consequences may lead to temporary,permanent, or long-lasting injury to the toddlers.
Children’ssocial consequences encompass those that are associated with abusethat is directed at their mothers, as well as the general connectionof child maltreatment and domestic abuse. Various studies show thatfamilies that experience either domestic or child abuse have thirtyto sixty percent chance of going through both violence forms thattake place in homes.
Domesticabuse also has physical consequences on children in the form ofdirect and indirect injuries. Direct injury relates to an incident ofdomestic abuse, while an indirect injury relates to the victim of thedomestic abuse being incapable of providing a nurturing and safeenvironment to the child (Hester, 2012). Direct injury can entail thefetus. Pregnancy can amplify the danger of domestic abuse forfemales, and such an assault can result in premature births, fetaldeaths, and birth weights that are low. Both the woman and her babymay be harmed if the abuser attacks her at the time she is carryingthe infant. The woman may make attempts at protecting the child, orin some cases she may use the baby as a form of protection toprevent the abuser from assaulting her physically. In all thescenarios, the child may experience physical harm. Additionally,younger children are normally affected because of their inability tomove to the safe zones with speed, and thus, they get struck with theobjects that are being thrown or physical blows at the time ofdomestic quarrel. Adolescents and older children who try to intervenemay be hurt.
Theneuroendoctrine or behavioral consequences are very critical becausethey encompass emotional, weak social, and a child’s developmentalgrowth that associates with poor overall mental and physical healthin later life (Hester, 2012). Such consequences may be noticeable ininfants as increased emotional arousal, irritability, and a reductionof receptiveness to adults. The effects of domestic conflicts mayalso be manifested in the school-aged children as depression,aggression, attention, problems, anxiety, and withdrawal. Moreover,such children may portray risk-taking and bullying traits. They canalso go through dating aggression. It is also imperative to note thatdomestic conflicts can cause trauma to children. Trauma in the earlylife of children affects their impulse control, emotional regulation,and their development. A traumatized child will not recognize heremotions and those of others, instead, she will sympathize less withother people, and also suffer from low social aptitude. As a result,such a child will have interpersonal relationships that are impaired.
Awoman whose spouse abuses will live in fear because she will never beable to predict the next time she can be attacked. The abuse mayresult in her isolation from family and friends so as to make herincreasingly reliant on the abuser. In such scenarios, the abusedwill find it difficult to make sense of the happenings in hersurrounding. As a result, she may lose her self-esteem as time passesby and believe the insults of her abuser. She may live in denial ofthe torture she is going through, and blame herself for the violencewith the hope that her abuser will change (Hester, 2012). An abusedwoman is most likely to suffer from post-traumatic trauma, whichencompasses symptoms like nightmares, numbness, a sense of seclusion,panic attacks, headaches, depression, difficulty sleeping, andagitation. The abused women are at the risk of physical injuries likefractures, cuts, and bruises, knife wounds, gunshot wounds, prematuredelivery, miscarriage, suicide, homelessness, fainting, seizures,drug addict, homicide, hearing, and vision loss.
SpousalAbuse can Transfer to Child Abuse
Spousalabuse can affect the spouses’ children in various ways when theywitness the domestic conflicts between their parents. There is a highassociation between child abuse and spousal abuse (Statsky, 2014).For instance, it is possible for a woman or a man who abuses theirspouse to mistreat the children physically. Secondly, the childrenwho witness either of the parent assault the other will have theperspective that physical assault that happens between the parents isa typical or an appropriate behavior. It is possible for a boy whogrows up observing his father battering his mother to become abatterer when he becomes adults. The same scenario can also apply tothe young girls who witness their fathers’ assault their mothers.The girls may grow up thinking that it is normal for men to beatwomen in marriages, and thus, they will succumb to the same when theyget married to a batterer in future.
Thirdly,social scientists have conducted studies that indicate that childrenin families whose members are violent suffer from personal trauma(Jee& University of Hartford, 2012).Such children are more probable to suffer from a range of behavioralpredicaments, psychosomatic emotional illnesses, as well as a feelingof vulnerability. Fourth, it is likely for older children andadolescents to protect the spouse who is under attack, and they getphysically assaulted in the process. As such, families in whichspousal abuse is taking place are more exposed to intrusion by theservice agencies of children. In the event of the separation ofparents, visitation agreement and child custody should be planned tomake sure that the abused spouse and the children are safe.
ShouldSpousal Violence Determine the Residence of the Child?
Aftera divorce, which is as a result of domestic assault, the residence ofa child becomes essential. The court examines a range of factorsencompassing the financial status of the parents, the physical healthof the child, and the education of the parents before determining thechild’s residence (Krakauer,2015).The Violence against Women Act (VAWA) plays a significant role ininfluencing the mentioned factors because courts may want to providesole child custody to one parent, but not letting the parents sharethe custody. For instance, the state of Florida would provide solecustody to a parent if a court rules that due to the past incidentsof domestic abuse, as well as child abuse, it would be dangerous tothe child if custody is shared.
Whendetermining the residence of a child, the courts will consider thecircumstances and needs of the child including the emotional,affection, and love bonds between the child and:
Every individual who is permitted to or claims access to or custody of the child,
Other family members of the child who live with the child
People who are involved in the upbringing and care of the child
Thecourt will also consider the preferences and views of the child ifthey can logically be established, and the duration within which thechild has resided in a home environment that is stable ((Jee& University of Hartford, 2012).Additionally, the courts will examine the willingness and ability ofthe individuals who are applying for custody to educate and guide thechild, as well as their ability to provide the life necessities andany need that may be special to the child. The persons applying forcustody will also present a proposed plan for access to or custody ofthe child for the upbringing and care of the child. The courts willalso analyze the connection by blood or via an order of adoptionbetween the persons who are party to the custody application and thechild, as well as the stability and permanence of the family unitthat is proposed that the infant will reside. A gross misbehavior ofa parent that has been repeated severally in the past may determinethe residence of a child because the court will always prioritize thechild’s interests and safety. However, there are instances in whicha spouse can stay with a child even if he has proved to be physicallyand verbally abusive as long as there is proof that he is a wonderfulparent. Such a case appears to be contradicting the earlier statementthat the child’s best interest comes first. When deciding theresidence of a child, an individual’s capability to be a parentwill be assessed to find out if the individual has assaulted:
Her or his spouse
A member of the household
The child’s parent to whom the claim relates
Therefore,if a child’s interest is not to reside with a person who mistreatsthe other spouse, then such a person will not be allowed to have thechild.
Possibilityof Rehabilitation for Domestic Violence Offenders
Accordingto the findings of the study by Durham University News (2015), manyfamilies divorce while a majority of the lives of the victims getdestroyed due to domestic conflicts. Additionally, the offenders whoare supposed to be the families’ breadwinners end up serving jailterms that could have been avoided (Durham University News (2015). Assuch, there is a need to address the atrocious crime and providesafety to the majority of the individuals who are affected. Apartfrom having a strong judicial system that deals with domestic crimes,rehabilitation can be essential to stopping the offenders fromengaging in the abuse repeatedly. Moreover, the rehabilitationcenters can be used to find out the reasons why the perpetratorsabuse their intimate partners even if they are in love with them. Theprograms can also be used to teach them on how to confront theircriminal and abusive characters.
Thestudy by Durham University News (2015) further states that a largepopulation of abusive men stops their sexual and physical assaultsafter attending a domestic abuse executor program. Some studiespropose that such programs can play a critical role in the pursuit tostop domestic conflicts. The programs are intended to provideeducation to men to help them change their abusive characters withthe intention of enhancing the safety of children and women. Theprograms are largely based in communities. Additionally, they arevery effective if the criminal courts do not mandate the offenders tobe part of the programs. The findings of the study indicate that suchprograms reduced sexual and physical domestic assaults by asignificant percentage as fewer females report being physicallyoffended after the abusers having gone through the program.Rehabilitation programs help in ending violence against children andfemales as it prevents the abusers from being repeat perpetrators(Iwi& Newman, 2015).However, some scholars argue that the rehabilitating programs canlead to the creation of more manipulative and better abusers becauseit serves as their meeting point. Such an argument can be used toexplain why some men never improve but get worse when they live thecenters.
DurhamUniversity News (2015) recognizes that a lot of work needs to be donefor the programs to be fully effective. On the other hand, the studyconfirms that the rehabilitating programs have improved the lives ofmany children, women, and men. Men on the program can be put toattend group work sittings on a daily basis where their charactersare challenged and discussed by the facilitators of the program. Thefacilitators also teach them a range of techniques that they can useto control their abuse and violence. Women who are ex-partners andpartners to the domestic violence perpetrators are given ongoingassistance by a support worker who is a woman. They are also informedof the attendance of their partners on, as well as their engagementwith the rehabilitating plan. Research findings indicate that amajority of men in the rehabilitation programs are capable of makingsteps towards positive change with the assistance of the program. Theprograms have been helpful in changing the rude ways of communicationthat the perpetrators have used in the past to the respectful ways.The programs make the offenders positive and willing to shareparenting. They also become aware of themselves and others after therehabilitation exercise. As such, there is a possibility for familiesto be safe and have a lasting change.
TheDifference between Male and Female Offenders
Instituteof Medicine (U.S.), National Research Council (U.S.), and NationalResearch Council (U.S.) (2014) state that womenhave lower rates of arrest than men for almost all categories ofcrimes apart from prostitution. Such a fact is true in almost allcorners of the world. Women make up less than twenty percent ofarrests in the U.S for most categories of crimes. Traditionally,domestic abuse has been perceived as an act that is always performedby men against their women partners. On the other hand, a lot ofpolitical and social research on the domestic violence perpetrationhas been centered on male perpetrators. There exists a strongpolitical and social bias against perceiving females as offenders ofviolence and abuse, regarding the concern that the people’s mindsetwould be diverted from the male to female hurdles that are consideredas a serious assault.
Consequently,Instituteof Medicine (U.S.), National Research Council (U.S.), and NationalResearch Council (U.S.) (2014) explain that thereis no much discussion about the female offenders of the violenceconcerning intimate partners. The public also gives little attentionto creating useful interventions for the female culprits. Althoughthe prevalence rates are high, abuse in lesbian associations inspecific has gotten little deliberation as compared to the sexualassault between a man and a woman. In the past years, not less thanthirty surveys have unveiled almost same intimate abuse rates thatare carried out by men and women. A Canadian study that was conductedin large scale is in support of such findings, with seven percent ofmen and eight percent of women reporting that they had beenmistreated in the past by their intimate partners.
Conversely,the second group of researchers has come up with evidence suggestingthat in as much as the existence of women to men intimate abuse istrue, it only corresponds to approximately five percent of the casesof domestic abuse (Withrow, 2016). Some arguments are that thevarious violent rates that the findings of the two studies in theparagraphs above describe come about because they sample dissimilar,hugely non-overlapping populace that faces different types of abuse.General couple abuse that is comparatively sex balanced is capturedby the research methodology of the studies, whereas patriarchalintimidation that entails terroristic attacks of males on theirfemale intimate partners is captured by the study of the system ofthe criminal justice or other social organizations like shelters.
Thepresent meta-analysis got the diversities in gender in the violenceseverity and supported the perception that the studies that analyzeacts of abuse will find diverse results as compared to the studiesthat investigate abuse consequences (Krakauer,2015).In the meta-analysis, the results indicated that females were a bitmore probable than males to report by use of physical assault incherished associations, and also to make use of such assault quitefrequently. On the other hand, males were more probable to causeinjury than females.
Theinterpersonal motives and context of females who abuse their intimatepartners are not well comprehended (Ronnfeldt, 2016). Several studiesshow that most females are abusive in the context of abuse againstthem by men. A greater part of the abuse that the assaulted femalesuse against their abusers is normally motivated by fighting back orself-defense during the time of the abuse. As such, it can beconcluded that the female offenders of domestic abuse are differentfrom the male perpetrators. The violence conducted by the males ismostly associated with the issues of control and power or concernsregarding abandonment. Nonetheless, Ronnfeldt (2016) writes that ithas not been confirmed by any research that females are more probableto employ physical assault exclusively due to self-defense or whenretaliating. Additionally, there are studies that found that femalesinitiate abuse as regularly as males. Therefore, their abuse is notprimarily a reaction to the assault by their male counterparts.
Thewomen who are ordered by courts to attend counseling because ofdomestic abuse, as well as those in a shelter are likely to reportsevere apprehension and to inform the police the time their abuserinitiated assault than the males who are ordered by the courts toattend counseling (Jee & University of Hartford, 2012). On thecontrary, men do laugh at the violence of their partners. Both thefemales and the males who are ordered by the courts to attendcounseling appear alike in the injurious outcome, violence frequency,and expressed outcome. Nevertheless, the males portray dominating andcontrolling characters than the females looking for shelter servicesor the court ordered females, implying that men are likely to controland initiate the violence dynamics even when females employ violence.Likewise, Shipley and Arrigo (2012) assert that other studies havediscovered that men attackers are more controlling than the womenattackers during a domestic abuse.
Whencomparing women and men, men engage in the battering character traitssuch as severe physical assault, injury, coercive control, and sexualcoercion (Shipley& Arrigo, 2012).Additionally, men and women report comparable levels of abuse fromhomosexual and heterosexual partners though the violence form isdifferent. Women are likely to be sexually assaulted, while men arealways the psychological aggression victims. On the other hand,physical abuse rates are always alike across the sex orientation,though the impact of the abuse may be more brutal for the females.Also, imperative to note is that women and men are equally probableto employ physical assault for self-defense. To summarize, women mayabuse their intimate partners just in the same manner as men, thoughtheir motive and effect for the abuse appear to be dissimilar fromthat of the males. Women always go through severe abuse from theirmen and are even likely to be affected negatively by their men’sabuse even if they are the aggressor in the relation.
Accordingto Certain (2016), women and men perpetrators of domestic abuse dohave almost similar traits. Female and male domestic abuseperpetrators share same experiences from their childhood family. Someof the studies indicate that one out of four females had seen spousalabuse, one-third had been assaulted physically by a caregiver, whileover eighty percent indicated that they had been put on corporalpunishment by their parents. Relationship anguish is same betweenwomen and men, though, compared to the men offenders, women are morelikely to consider leaving the abusive partners. Discrepancies comeabout in the functioning of their mental health. Females are thricemore probable than males to have attempted suicide. Additionally, abigger number of the abused females use psychotropic medication ascompared to the males.
Mostof the abusive males had problems of substance abuse, as well ashistories of severe problems of conduct in their childhood than thefemales (Shipley & Arrigo, 2012). On the other hand, females weremore probable to witness compulsive symptoms, borderline and historiccharacter disorders. A comparison of the females’ and the males’variables of their criminal history, their previous domestic abusehistory, and demographic behaviors who get arrested for their abuseagainst a heterosexual partner rank the males higher than the femaleson the recidivism risk factors. The females are ranked higher thanthe males on three risk issues out of the possible twenty mostlycited issues. The three risk issues include younger age, problems ofemployment, and index offense severity. When compared to menperpetrators, women posed less of a threat to their partners.Additionally, female perpetrators were less probable to have a recordof past criminal charges than males. Men are more probable to havesubstance abuse problems.
Greeneand Heilbrun (2014) write that abusein Lesbian associations share lots of similar risk issues andcorrelates to violence between males and females. It is predictablethat offenders of domestic abuse are not a homogeneous lot and manywomen offenders’ typologies have been presently proposed. The womenwho only abuse their partners are exclusively abusive to theirpartners, whereas the women who are commonly violent are abusive bothoutside and within their relationships. The women who are violent totheir spouses are motivated by the craving to rule over their men.Such women are emotionally violent, and they blame their violence onexternal factors. Additionally, their abuse is very instrumental andapplied in a wider range of circumstances. Most females who areabusive report symptoms of trauma such as dissociation and nightmaresthan the females who only abuse their partners. Conversely, women whoonly abuse their partners never have a history of violence neither intheir relationships with spouses nor their childhood. The females whoare abusive report cases of psychological hurdles, as well asextensive histories of criminal acts. Additionally, such women aremore probable to have witnessed their mothers’ abusive act towardstheir fathers as compared to the women who are only violent to theirmen. Such implies that the women are socialized that it is acceptablefor females to abuse their intimate partners.
Howthe Gender Based Biases Influence Custody Disputes and How They arehandled through the Courts
Itis normally common that a plaintiff is entitled to have his casedetermined by a judge who can approach the specifics in an objectiveand detached way. In fact, the safeguard of the dignity and integrityof the judicial procedure from biases in the judiciary has beenreferred to as the palladium of the system of the judiciary (Greene& Heilbrun, 2014).Judges are trained to conduct their duties in a manner that do notmanifest prejudice or bias based on gender, age, disability,religion, sex, socioeconomic status, or national origin. As such,they are always expected to be insightful to the bias problems.However, judges do not undergo a rapid transformation from what theywere just because they have taken the oath of their offices.According to some of the verdicts that have been made concerningdomestic violence, it can be said that indisputable neutrality hasnot been observed. The expectations, attitudes, and perceptions ofsome judges have been changed due to their familiarity with domesticconflicts which makes them empathize with other people’sexperiences. Judges are like any other person who can read magazinesand newspapers that address the effects of domestic violence onchildren and women. In fact, some of the affected persons arerelatives to the judges, and thus, they have witnessed thedifficulties that such abused persons go through. As such, it can beassumed that the courts do not have a genuine impartiality.
Theperception of the society on men has dramatically changed since theperiods when the judicial systems seldom arbitrated between therelationship of the child and his father (Krakauer, 2015). The shiftin the paradigm was made complete in the early twentieth century whenthe laws regarding domestic violence were officially changed tomaternal preference. With the change in the societal perspectives onfemales and the successive regulations governing the rights of women,courts have also changed the manner in which they determine thedomestic violence cases. Until late in the nineteenth century, courtsgave an inherent custody right to men. Such a primary right of mendeveloped the assumption of fatherly placement. Courts consideredchildren and women as men’s property because the fundamental rightsof women were limited. However, in the twentieth-century womenacquired greater economic and social power. As a result, they had thecapability to acquire better educational chances that made them ableto provide for the maintenance of their children. It is during thisera that advocates of the rights of women added the aspect ofmaternal nature that re-established the notion that women are wellplaced to care for their children than men. They used the notion as awedge to gain access to their children.
Thelaws were changed to expunge the old regulation of paternalpartiality so as to place women on equal traction as men, though thecourts interpreted them for women, specifically when they weredealing with the case of young children (Withrow, 2016). The courtshave always held that nothing can be an ample alternative for themothers’ love. A mother has the sympathy and patience that isneeded to soothe and mold the mind of the child in his adjustment tothe environment. Such assumptions have continued to favor mothers incourts unless if the child’s father can prove that his wife isunfit to have the child’s custody. Being a female in many cases hasbeen the sole variable in influencing custody.
Inthe twenty-first century, all the custody disagreements betweenspouses start with the assumption that the motherly custody is bestfor the child because mothers serve the child’s best interests(Ronnfeldt,2016).The assumption has been basically for children below three years old.As such, fathers have the burden of challenging the assumption ifthey can meet the rebuttal standard. Mothers are always awarded thechild’s custody because fathers do fail to successfully contest thecase. Such happens because courts always consider women as wellplaced to nurture children in any environment. Customarily, it hasbeen a requirement for men to prove that women are not fit forcustodianship if the assumption that the motherly custody is best fora young child has to be rebutted. The motherly preference for theyoung infants has become the norm in statutes and common law in theUnited States. The laws seem to accept females as possessingnurturing skills and superior morals. Hence, they are better suitedto take care of the young children.
Thedoctrine of the Best Interest of the Child Standard dominated in thetwentieth century. The concept of the doctrine was a hybrid ofsuggestions that included some parts of the Doctrine of the TenderYears, as well as some ideals of the society that required themembers of the family to be persons in the courts’ eyes as opposedto the property of the man. The doctrine that advocates for ensuringthat the child’s best interests are served have taken theassumption from men and placed the situation of the cases towardswhat suits the child as a human being. The Doctrine of the TenderYears also provided more facts that the mother provided the bestsituation for her child.
Contraryto the requirements of the doctrines of the Doctrineof the Tender Years andtheBest Interest of the Child Standard,Ronnfeldt (2016) writes that thesociety’s negative stereotypes regarding the females encouragejudges not to believe the allegations by women about their intimatepartners’ domestic abuse. Sexual orientation hurdles are sensitivein the family courts and become challenging when children’s sexualabuse is alleged in visitation or custody proceedings. There isalways a tendency by the judges to disbelieve the trustworthiness ofthe females who make the allegations, as well as to categorize themas vindictive or hysterical even in the situation of medical evidenceto support the claim. Additionally, Greeneand Heilbrun (2014) state that theavailable research on court bias when dealing with domestic violencecases shows that visitation and custody orders always fail toencompass sufficient provisions to stop further violence. As such,the abusers are granted the unlimited access to the children, as wellas unlimited access to the assaulted partners.
Sexistbehavior and language are still widespread, regardless of a betterunderstanding of the evil practices. On the other hand, someprocedures and practices exist in the courts though they may not seemto be influenced by a judge’s biases, still, produce results thatare biased (Jee& University of Hartford, 2012).Gender bias can always be witnessed in the judges’ actions or thedecisions they make if they were based on stereotypical orpreconceived thoughts about the capacity, or nature of women and men.The effects of misconceptions and myths regarding the social andeconomic realities of the lives of women and men, as well as theirjobs’ relative worth sometimes lead to bias in courts.
Jeeand University of Hartford (2012) assertthat thebias in the courts results in discriminating, punishing, andpathologizing against women. Judges do not make the right decisionsthat they should make in courtrooms. Instead, they leave thedecisions to the extra-judicial private and public personnel. Thecourts preclude women from their rights to a fair process that shouldinclude adjudication, hearing, or trial that they are entitled toduring the court proceedings. They are pressurized into stimulationsvia the rubber-stamping of the authoritative reports and evaluations,which become the rulings of the judges.
Toconclude, many marriages in America end in divorce due to domesticviolence, whereas millions of children in the country are alreadyaffected by being exposed to the hostile situation. On the otherhand, child custody disputes are the most contested processes. Theexistence of spousal violence considerably sways divorce matters,which in turn makes the following of visitation and custody laws adifficult and somewhat unsafe task. The findings of this literaturereview reveal that spousal violence affects custody disputes as thecourts deny the violent spouse the child custody.
Thepaper also confirmed that spousal abuse could transfer to child abuseand the child may become abusive in his later life. Additionally,spousal violence can determine the residence of the child in whichthe court may sometimes rule the child’s custody for the abused.The literature also found that the abusive partners who have beenrehabilitated become less abusive after the rehabilitation process.Moreover, the study also confirmed that there are differences betweenthe male and female domestic abuse offenders. The male offenders aredangerous to their intimate partners as compared to the femaleoffenders. Courts have also been found to be biased in their rulingsregarding child custody, in which a man maybe favored because oftheir financial power. On the other hand, thedoctrines of the Doctrineof the Tender Years andtheBest Interest of the Child Standard favor women in the courts rulingsregarding child custody.
Certain,Z. (2016). Breakthe silent cycle of domestic violence: Break the silent cycle ofdomestic violence.Place of publication not identified: Dorrance Pub Co. Print.
Conte,J. R. (2014). Childabuse and neglect worldwide.Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.
DurhamUniversity News. (2015).Rehabilitation programmes for domestic violence perpetrators canwork.Retrieved on https://www.dur.ac.uk/news/newsitem/?itemno=23319
Greene,E., & Heilbrun, K. (2014). Wrightsman`spsychology and the legal system.Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning Publishers. Print.
Hester,M. (2012). Makingan impact: Children and domestic violence: a reader.Philadelphia: J. Kingsley Publishers.
Instituteof Medicine (U.S.), National Research Council (U.S.), & NationalResearch Council (U.S.). (2014). Newdirections in child abuse and neglect research.
Iwi,K., & Newman, C. (2015). Engagingwith perpetrators of domestic violence: Practical techniques forearly intervention.London Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Jee,J., & University of Hartford. (2012). Genderbias in child custody cases: Battered women`s stories.West Hartford, CT: University of Hartford.
Krakauer,J. (2015). Missoula:Rape and the Justice System in a College. NewYork: Doubleday Publishers.
Miller,M., Drake, E., & Nafziger, M. (2013). Whatworks to reduce recidivism by domestic violence offenders? (DocumentNo. 13-01-1201). Olympia: Washington State Institute for PublicPolicy.Retrieved fromhttp://www.wsipp.wa.gov/ReportFile/1119/Wsipp_What-Works-to-Reduce-Recidivism-by-Domestic-Violence-Offenders_Full-Report.pdf
Ronnfeldt,D., K. (2016). “Does Gender Still Matter? Child Custody Bias in theIllinois Family Court System.” Thesesand Dissertations.631. Retrieved from http://ir.library.illinoisstate.edu/etd/631
Shipley,S. L., & Arrigo, B. A. (2012). Introductionto forensic psychology: Court, law enforcement, and correctionalpractices.Australia: Elsevier/AP Publication. Print.
Spohn,C., & Hemmens, C. (2012). Courts:A text/reader.Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications.
Statsky,W. P. (2014). Familylaw: The essentials.Published by Demar. Print.
Withrow,B. L. (2016). Researchmethods in crime and justice.NewYork: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group Publishers. Print.