Lundy Bancroft: Batterers’ Advantages in Custody Disputes
“A batterer who does file for custody will frequently win, as he has numerous advantages over his partner in custody litigation. These include:
his typical ability to afford better representation (often while simultaneously insisting that he has no money with which to pay child support),
his marked advantage over his victim in psychological testing, since she is the one who has been traumatized by the abuse,
his ability to manipulate custody evaluators to be sympathetic to him, and
his ability to manipulate and intimidate the children regarding their statements to the custody evaluator.
There is also evidence that gender bias in family courts works to the batterer’s advantage. (Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Gender Bias Study) Even if the batterer does not win custody, his attempt can be among the most intimidating acts possible from the victim’s perspective, and can lead to financial ruin for her and her children.
After a break-up, the abuser sometimes becomes quickly involved with a new partner whom he treats relatively well. Abusers are not out of control, and therefore can be on “good” behavior for extended periods of time – even a year or two – if they consider it in their best interest to do so. The new partner may insist, based on her experience with him, that the man is wonderful to her, and that any problems reported from the previous relationship must have been fabricated, or must result from bad relationship dynamics for which the two parents are mutually responsible. The abuser can thus use his new partner to create the impression that he is not a risk.”