Crisis In Custody Courts

Published on May 05, 2010, 6:23 pm
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For years, protective mothers have complained about a broken custody court system giving custody to abusive fathers. A new book based on multi-disciplinary research has confirmed that common mistakes in the custody courts have resulted in thousands of children being forced to live with abusers.

Domestic Violence, Abuse and Child Custody: Legal Strategies and Policy Issues, co-edited by Dr. Mo Hannah and Barry Goldstein includes chapters by over 25 of the leading experts in domestic violence and custody in the U.S. and Canada including judges, lawyers, psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists, journalists and domestic violence advocates. Although the writers come from different disciplines and professional experience, there is remarkable agreement that the courts’ failure to use up-to-date research is responsible for placing children at risk and undermining laws designed to prevent domestic violence.

Male supremacist groups help abusers manipulate the courts. “Abusive fathers with little involvement with the children during the marriage suddenly seek custody when their partners attempt to leave as a tactic to pressure them to return or punish them for leaving. The courts have been slow to recognize or respond to this unspeakably cruel tactic.” says co-editor, Dr. Mo Hannah, a psychology professor at Siena College.

The research demonstrates custody courts mishandle most of their domestic violence cases because they continue to use outdated and discredited practices. “Thirty years ago the custody courts adopted practices and procedures to deal with domestic violence at a time when there was no research available,” says co-editor Barry Goldstein who practiced law for thirty years until his license was suspended in the final stages of editing the book in retaliation for exposing an abusive judge. “The common assumptions that domestic violence is caused by mental illness, substance abuse and the victims actions and was limited to physical abuse have all proven false, but the court system has failed to change its practices that were based on this misinformation. Even worse, after thirty years of reinforcement of the wrong information by often unqualified professionals relied on by the court system, judges frequently are not open to up-to-date research because the discredited beliefs are ! so deeply ingrained,” says Goldstein.

Marcia Pappas, President of NOW-NYS states “We are proud to endorse this important book. This book exposes the dysfunctional behavior in the courts when mothers desperately seek to protect their children from harm.”

For further information, please contact: Dr. Mo Therese Hannah at 518-210-2487 or Barry Goldstein at 914-643-3142

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