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Published Fall 2003, Vol. 54, No. 4 pp 35-50 by Juvenile and Family Court Journal

Creating Justice Through Balance: Integrating Domestic Violence

by Andrea C. Farney and Roberta L. Valente

The core values underpinning family law—particularly as it addresses child custody and visitation—too often are at odds with the safety needs of victims of domestic violence. Family law, which has developed as a mechanism for defining, recognizing, establishing, reordering, or supporting the familial and intimate relationships that people have with one another, is frequently inadequate to address domestic violence. In contrast, the specialized domestic violence law provisions operating within family law function under rationales and theories distinct from those underlying family law. The inherent substantive tensions that arise when the two bodies of law are simultaneously implemented can result in conflicting court orders, unsafe interventions, and inappropriate remedies for survivors of domestic violence. 

FAMILY LAW
ASSUMPTIONS

 DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
 LAW ASSUMPTIONS

Physical harm must constitute serious bodily injury and threats must involve imminent physicality. Take ANY physical threat or harm seriously, including emotional and financial abuse.
Parental influences and access are of primary importance. Safety is more critical than access.
Parties share equal responsibility to work together to arrive at mutual agreement; parties should be friendly and cooperative toward one another.

Obtain structured agreements and schedules through the adversary system to avoid contact and negotiation for the abused party; avoid mediation.

Denying on-going contact or access to children for a parent is an inappropriate attempt to punish that person.

Creativity and persistence are important to outcomes that will not result in further opportunities for control, harassment, or abuse.

Non-family law proceedings are unrelated matters and use of other proceedings are viewed with skepticism regarding party intent; litigants want to get a "leg up" Weave many forms of relief together to prevent the abuser from using financial, property, or decision-making power to harm the abused party.
The parties are mutually and primarily responsible for making the order and post-separation relationship work. Hold abuser accountable; enforce orders and respond to violations quickly and consistently.

To read the full article (pdf) click here

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