The breakup of a relationship is never easy for California parents, and domestic abusers can use child custody to prolong their influence over victims. According to the American Psychological Association, most people assume that children will get to live with the nonviolent parent when a couple splits. Family courts, however, too often make parental rights a priority even for domestic abusers. Custody evaluators and judges generally believe that children benefit from relationships with both parents. A report from the American Judges Association found that abusers have a 70 percent success rate when they go to court to gain custody of their children.
The psychological consequences of post-traumatic stress disorder might be used against victims. When abusers make claims that the other parent is mentally unfit, courts sometimes agree and grant custody or unsupervised visitation. Many of these decisions lack scientific evidence and reflect the poor training of court officials on matters related to domestic violence.
Court evaluators too frequently consider accusations of abuse to be lies meant to deny a parent custody. Research, however, does not support the widespread belief in false abuse accusations. When courts dismiss abuse claims by the victim, they tend to grant the abuser custody. The continued relationship with the children and connection to the other parent often prolongs the trauma of the victims and exposes them to physical harm in some cases.
A child custody battle is a highly emotional time for a parent. The representation of an attorney could help a client communicate with the court and prevent an abuser from gaining unsupervised access to children. An attorney could assemble evidence, such as police reports and medical records, to illustrate a history of abuse.