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Fischel-Wolovick, L. (2020). Battered Mothers and Children in the Courts: A Lawyer's View. Int. J. Appl. Psychoanal. Stud., 17(3):246-261.

(2020). International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 17(3):246-261

Battered Mothers and Children in the Courts: A Lawyer's View

Lisa Fischel-Wolovick

The prevention of harm to battered mothers and children during custody and divorce litigation requires a trauma-informed judicial approach. The existence of competing definitions of domestic violence, gender-biased theories of parental alienation, and requirements that battered mothers co-parent have undermined legislation intended to protect victims of domestic violence and their children. An informed judicial response to domestic violence requires mental health professionals who are able to identify the multiple patterns of abuse including physical, emotional, economic, and sexual coercively controlling behaviors, as well as the risks of post-separation violence. The family courts' lack of transparency and limited public access has further contributed to its reliance on empirically weak gender-biased parental alienation theories. Mental health professionals who provide interdisciplinary support to these courts must have graduate clinical education in domestic violence, child maltreatment, development, and trauma. Additional systemic changes should include neutral court watch observers to promote accountability and transparency, as well as appropriate services, to these vulnerable families.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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