JACKSON, Mississippi. Leaving an abusive relationship is hard enough. However, if you share a child with an abusive ex, first and foremost on your mind will be protecting your children. According to Pacific Standard, abusive exes are more likely to use child custody issues as a means to continue to control their former partner. When leaving an abusive ex, it is important to remember that abuse stems from a need to control. According to Pacific Standard, one of the ways that abusers try to control victims is by maintain coercive control over an ex. An abusive partner might do this using tactics to keep the person mentally, emotionally, financially, and legally connected to the abuser.
What can you do if a formerly abusive ex sued for custodial rights or uses the legal system to continue to abuse you? It is important to take steps to protect your rights from the start. If at all possible, the more evidence of your ex’s abuse you have, the better your chances will be to retain sole custody of your children. This means reporting abuse when it happens and filing for orders of protection when you feel unsafe.
Many courts favor granting both parents custody of the children. This means that unless a parent has proven to be particularly dangerous, the courts will generally award a shared custody arrangement in which both parties have access to the children. In fact, in some cases, an abusive parent might be so controlling and manipulative that he or she will try to show the courts that the non-abusive partner should not have custody. Judges tend to award custody to the parent that will promote the child’s relationship with both parents. Judges don’t look favorably on cases of parental alienation. An abusive partner might use this knowledge to their benefit, so it is important to have evidence to corroborate any claims of abuse you might make, lest the court think you are falsely claiming abuse to get sole custody.
Unfortunately, not all judges are trained to identify signs that a parent might be abusive and many judges may not understand how difficult it is to break the dangerous cycle of abuse. Custody evaluators may also sometimes be ill-informed about the cycle of abuse. You might be asked why you stayed or why you continued to speak to your abusive ex.
Yet, when judges and custody evaluators make mistakes, the consequences can be deadly. Granting an abusive parent custody of a child can lead to situations where the child gets abused, or even killed. Scary Mommy reported on a case where a mother’s pleas for sole custody were ignored by a judge. Her daughter was killed. The mother’s work has led to Congressional action, which outlines the steps that courts should take when women seek domestic violence protection for their children. However, these steps are guidelines and aren’t required.
If you are seeking divorce and are facing a child custody battle with an abusive ex, it is important to take steps to protect your rights and protect your children. The Law Office of Andrew Sorrentino, P.L.L.C. is a child custody attorney in Jackson, Mississippi who works with individuals who are seeking sole custody to protect their children from the cycle of abuse. Our firm can work closely with you, help you understand your rights, and use child custody laws to protect you. Visit our Jackson, Mississippi child custody lawyers at the Law Office of Andrew Sorrentino, P.L.L.C. today.