“This a court of law, young man; not a court of justice.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr
“They confuse power with goodness and mistake law for justice.” – Charles T. Sprading “Freedom and its Fundamentals”
Considering Court in a Custody Dispute
The court custody battle is a crucible for a Type Three conflict and should you finally take the important step of going to court as a last resort to protect yourself or your children you are very likely to find that your problems have just begun. Before considering legal action you should familiarize yourself thoroughly with Domestic Violence, Child Abuse and Child Custody: Legal Strategies and Policy Issues edited by Barry Goldstein, Esq. and Mo Hannah, Ph.D., as a way to prepare yourself. Also, you should read, at a minimum, two sections of the Ebook available on this site, “Information for Court Custody Disputes,” and “Profile of People in High Conflict Disputes.”
The quotes above suggest that even the most fair minded court is going to have difficulty protecting the family from the abuser because the court is limited by the laws pertaining to abuse. Proving that abuse laws have been violated is an expensive, long and harrowing process – and one that you are very likely to lose and that most likely will leave you destitute. I found Karen Winner’s book Divorced From Justice, largely accurate and indispensable to anyone going through a divorce, particularly if it includes includes abuse allegations.
“Judges are but men; and are swayed by their reality; give it whatever other name you please.” – David Dudley Field
Should you go to court you should have an attorney who is very familiar with these hazards of the system and consult with her/him extensively before taking any court action. Even overwhelming forensic evidence can be inadequate as the judge, the child’s attorney and the custody evaluator usually find the abuser more credible – at least at first. When the true victim is asked to speak they often cannot as they become overwhelmed; they appear depressed and appear incapacitated – which often, they are. Also, very often they are on psychotropic medication for anxiety or depression and/or they may have had a car accident or other serious event as they are distraught and distracted by the abuse. The need for medication, or unfocused or disorganized behavior are symptoms of the abuse.
The abuser, whether it be, child sexual abuse, emotional abuse, financial or physical abuse, presents very well to the court: they are articulate, well dressed and supportive of the true victim – very often they are person of significant rank or prestige. They tell the court that they will take care of the true victim, find them the medical and psychiatric help that they need and that they will forgive the true victim for being irresponsible. It is likely that the court will support the abuser, the true victim will succumb and, in time, the pattern of behavior that lead to the court proceeding will begin anew, with increased intensity.
(For more specific information about court proceedings in child custody and abuse cases, including questions that probably should be included in the true victim’s examination and cross-examination, please go to the “Book” section. )