Legal Issues

Battered Mothers Custody Conference

Annual conference started in 2003 by two mothers, Mo Therese Hannah and Lilliane Heller Miller.  It addresses the many complex issues facing battered women as they strive to protect themselves and their children during divorce, custody, and visitation litigation.

Battered Women’s Justice Project — Legal advocacy for victims

BWJP is geared to assisting practitioners who may call seeking help or direction about problems in their jurisdictions.  However, they also provide assistance to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.  While BWJP cannot represent individual victims or take your case, and probably cannot locate an attorney for you, staff may be able to provide helpful information about the legal system and referrals to local and national legal resources.

Child Custody Justice, A documentary

by Sharon Araji, Retired Professor Emerita, Department of Sociology, University of Colorado, Denver.  This documentary shows:

    • the barriers women face in child custody battles when trying to protect their children from abusers
    • how children are damage by being with their abusers
    • interviews with lawyers, judges, law enforcement, protective mothers and court advocates
    • strategies that lawyers of abusers use to tie protective parent’s hands and help abusers win the cases
    • the history of PAS (Parental Alienation Syndrome) and how it is used against women
    • the need for lawyers and judges/court personnel to get consistent training on DV

Children Against Court Appointed Child Abuse

This website is run by adults who as children were victims of Court Appointed Child Abuse (where the Family Court orders them to have contact with or even live full time with their abusive parent), or were alienated from their protective parent by the lies of the abusive parent.

Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment Custody and Abuse Project

DV LEAP is a partnership of the George Washington University Law School and a network of participating law firms.

Document The Abuse — Ensure that a victim’s words about her fears and previous violence will not disappear if she does.

A victim can make an Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit (EAA) to document her experiences in ways that will help the legal system successfully prosecute in the future, even if she is disappeared, dead or in a coma.

The process combines video taping of the victim’s actual words attesting to the abuse, coupled with witnessed and notarized legal documents that successfully satisfy legal hurdles often faced in intimate partner violence and stalking cases.

Document The Abuse  A unique packaging of testimony + documentation + perpetrator historical profiling + pre-collected evidence delivered to established safe and legal persons = a delicate issue brilliantly wrapped up for successful prosecution.

Family Violence — Department of Justice, Canada

“Family violence is considered to be any form of abuse, mistreatment or neglect that a child or adult experiences from a family member, or from someone with whom they have an intimate relationship. The following pages provide information about family violence, the laws relating to family violence and the kind of help that is available to someone experiencing family violence.”

Finding Legal Help — Resource for residents of the USA

“ is provided as a public service by the American Bar Association’s Division for Legal Services. While the information on this site is about legal issues, it is not legal advice or legal representation. Because of the rapidly changing nature of the law and our reliance upon outside sources, we make no warranty or guarantee of the accuracy or reliability of information contained herein or at other sites to which we link. We assume no responsibility for any information, advice or services provided by any site to which we link. The American Bar Association sponsors a number of programs to improve the justice system, but is not able to help people with specific legal problems or cases. The Association is not able to refer you to an attorney.”

If you know links for other countries, please email us and we’ll add the links here.

How to collect evidence if your intervention order [protection order] is breached

This five minute video is by Women’s Health West and Victoria Police of Victoria, Australia. It features local women demonstrating simple and practical ways of gathering evidence. Note: This video is from Victoria, Australia, where “protection orders” are called “intervention orders” and the emergency phone number is 000, not 911 as in the USA.

How to Defend Against Parental Alienation Allegations

An article from Custody Preparation for Moms: A support site provided by those that have been through the process.

In the Best Interests of the Abuser: Coercive Control, Child Custody Proceedings and the “Expert” Assessments That Guide Judicial Determinations

This is an academic paper by Dr. Samantha Jeffries, Senior Lecturer at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith Institute of Criminology, Griffith University, Australia.  As with academic papers this is a demanding read, but well worth the effort.

The Abstract reads: This paper outlines why domestic violence (or more specifically, coercive control) should be crucial to child custody proceedings. What is known about parenting in the context of coercively controlling violence, and what the legislation directs courts to consider, is juxtaposed with the actuality of court decision making. Current knowledge about the recognition of domestic violence in judicial practice is overviewed, drawing particular attention to the role of the “expert” family assessment in determinations of a child’s “best interests”. A comprehensive synopsis of the existing research on these “expert” reports in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States is provided. It is concluded that, in court proceedings the reality of living with coercively controlling violence and the potential on-going risks it poses to children and non-abusive parents, is typically negated. Instead, “best interests” considerations prioritise the maintenance of perpetrator/child relationships, and thus “abuser’s rights” over victim safety. Judicial officers are not experts in domestic violence and they can only make decisions on the basis of the evidence before them, the assessments made by the “experts” likely play an important role in best interest considerations. Of concern is current research that calls into serious question the expertise of these “experts” when it comes to proceedings involving allegations of coercively controlling violence.

Injury Claim Coach — Empowering Injured Victims

None of the ACFJ team are legally qualified and we don’t know how good the advice on this site is, but it seems reasonable.  Very basic, of necessity, but probably potentially helpful. It seems like this site helps people assess the possible benefits of litigation before they spend any $$ on an attorney,  and suggests what type of attorney to look for, and what you can and can’t expect the law to do for you.

Note: It is a USA website, so if you are in another country the laws and the terms for things may be different.  Don’t assume that the advice on the website will be true for to other countries’ legal systems.

Letter of Resignation from an Abusive Church

This is actually an ACFJ blog post. We’ve put it here for ease of access.

Parental Alienation Syndrome: Frye v. Garnder in the Family Courts

Article by Jerome H. Poliacoff, Ph.D., P.A., Cynthia Le. Greene, Esq., and Laura Smith, Esq. that refutes the premise that Parental alienation syndrome is a valid diagnosis and should be admitted into child custody cases.

Everyday in this country, thousands are at risk of losing their family, home or livelihood because of their inability to afford or access legal help. Our programs equip individuals with solutions to life-changing legal issues and transform how the civil justice sector collaborates to tackle justice problems. (From Our Work)

Protection Orders: Do they work? Who violates them the most?

A review of research regarding civil court orders of protective.  Protection Orders are a key resource now available in every state in the US as a potential legal response to domestic violence. While available in all states, the types of protections offered, legal requirements, and procedures vary from state-to-state.  (This review is by the University of Kentucky in the USA, so it’s findings will be more applicable to the USA than other countries.)

Protective Parent Storehouse

This website is for the parent involved in a custody dispute where a potential abuser, his/her legal team, or Child Protective Services has accused you of false reporting or characterized you as vengeful and mentally ill.

Questions for your lawyer

PDF from the Office of the Public Advocate, Victoria, Australia.

Recording a Phone Call or Conversation:  It is Legal

by Brian Willingham

Recording Phone Calls and Conversations

This article discusses how federal and state laws affect how and if you can record phone calls and conversations.

Digital Recorders ~Not Diamonds~Are a Girl’s Best Friend:  Tips, Laws and Possibilities 

This article gives an overview of what one needs to be mindful of when considering electronic recordings.  This article is also available in Spanish.

Revisiting Parental Alienation Syndrome – Scientific Questions, Real World Consequences

This article from Social Work Today presents the “other side” of the PAS debate.

Sin by Silence

Sin by Silence is a documentary that takes one into the lives of women who are domestic violence’s living, worst-case scenarios.  Some of these women have killed their abusers and are now trapped behind bars.  This documentary tells the story of Convicted Women Against Abuse (CWAA), an initiative led by the women of CWAA to help educate the legal system.  Through careful orchestration of letter writing campaigns, media coverage, and senate hearings a moment was born and laws for battered women were change.

The Truth Behind Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) — part 1
The Real Parental Alienation — part 2

Two ACFJ blog posts that reveal the myth of PAS.

Using The Internet Safely, While Advocating For Your Personal Custody Case

from Protective Mothers’ Alliance International — a project of National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV)

WomensLaw is an extensive website launched to provide state-specific legal information and resources for survivors of domestic violence.  They also provide a confidential Email Hotline to offer direct support to survivors, their advocates, friends and family members.  The above link will take you to their About Us page.  At the top of the page is a Legal Information tab which gives information under these subheadings:  Know the Law – by State; Immigration; Preparing for Court; Other Federal Laws; and Other Legal Information.

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