The Experience of Domestic Violence Survivors in the US Family Courts: Gender Bias in the Court
The International Journal of Forensic Psychotherapy , Vol. 3(1).
Special Issue: Gendercide - Gender Divide
There is a significant body of research on gender bias against women in the family
courts. During the COVID-19 pandemic, battered women’s vulnerability to
domestic violence increased on a global level as women experienced a significant
increase in the severity of abuse. The problems of gender bias and the treatment of
battered women and their children have a long-history of human rights’ abuses. In
particular, battered mothers have been the focus of gender biased theories of
parental alienation, used as a defense against claims of abuse and child
maltreatment, despite a lack of empirical validity and acceptance. Additionally the
family courts in the United States are closed to the public and as a result there is a
lack of transparency and accountability. A large-scale national study revealed that
many supporting mental health professionals who provide custody evaluations lack
a formal graduate education in domestic violence and child maltreatment.
Furthermore, legislative presumptions that favor joint legal custody in custody
decisions and requirements of co-parenting, fails to take into consideration the
long-term public health risks of such chronic traumatic exposure. Finally, this
presentation will address needed systemic reforms that include increased
transparency, long-term court-monitoring, and supporting mental health
professionals with formal graduate education in trauma, child development, and
abuse, to promote resilience in vulnerable families.
Lisa Fischel-Wolovick, Esq.
5911 Riverdale Ave., Riverdale, New York 10471
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