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Published by National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

Managing Your Divorce: a Guide For Battered Women

This booklet is intended to be used by battered women who are representing themselves, without an attorney, in court cases involving child custody. This is not a recommendation to go into court unrepresented. In fact, we start the booklet with a piece on “How to Find an Attorney.” What we recommend strongly is that if there is any dispute or conflict about the arrangements for custody and visitation, get a lawyer!

Battered women have spoken repeatedly about the loss of custody as the greatest threat in their lives, saying that it is more painful than the physical violence they have suffered.

The stakes are extremely high in custody disputes; get a lawyer. You may say, “If I could afford an attorney, I wouldn’t need this booklet.” It’s true; usually the reason a battered woman is not represented by counsel is because she can’t afford it. This may be true at the beginning of a court case, or it may be even more devastating and true when she loses her house, runs out of money, and her attorney withdraws before the case is concluded.

Read the first piece. Make sure you have exhausted every resource that might be available to you. Your children are worth the effort, and you deserve the expert support.

Okay, you’ve left no stone unturned, and still you can’t find an affordable lawyer (please, no lawyer jokes). The rest of the booklet is designed to help you build a strong, focused, and thorough case. This information cannot guarantee the outcome you want, but it should increase your chances. It is also an important process in which you will learn and practice advocacy skills for yourself and your children as you rightfully demand safety and justice.

To read this booklet (pdf) click here

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