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Domestic violence issues in family courts

If New Jersey courts follow national patterns, domestic abuse might not be treated as seriously in family legal disputes as in criminal courts. One of the primary reasons for this disparity is that family court judges tend to evaluate custody matters in light of domestic violence scenarios based on whether a child has been abused or not. Domestic abuse of a parent might not preclude the abuser from having unsupervised contact, which could provide an avenue for continued abuse of that other party.

While family courts tend to view the best interests of the child as being well-served by providing for the involvement of both parents, advocates concerned about domestic violence suggest that an abusive ex-spouse might advance their agenda against the other parent through their interactions with a child. A child might vocalize negative attitudes to that other parent based on the influence of the abusive party. In some cases, this may be the result of a child's confusion or anger.

In some cases, it is possible that an abused parent's expression of outrage and anger can be construed as contrived, which may create a sense of disbelief in the officials involved. Additionally, it is believed that some judges interpret domestic violence as an expression of stress instead of an attempt to manipulate and control a partner. Although statistics tend to focus on scenarios in which the father is the abusive spouse, either parent could be affected by the abusive behavior of the other party.

A parent dealing with concerns about an ex-spouse's manipulative behavior during visitation periods with the children might want to have an attorney seek a modification of a parenting plan or visitation schedule. It might be important to keep a journal of events that demonstrates the reason for such concerns before trying to take the matter to court.

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