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Why do so many women lose custody battles?

– Posted in: Child custody Children's exposure to abuse Social Institutions & Abuse

Speakoutloud.net Mother child protection custody Clare Murphy PhDWhy are so many women who are psychologically abused and controlled by male partners losing court battles for custody of their children?

There are two cruxes of men’s intimate partner abuse – gender and power.

The way that power operates in our society underpins domestic violence and family court judges’s decisions.

Whether men deliberately aim to gain and maintain power and control or not, this is the effect on women. If you look at the hierarchies of power and control in nearly every social setting, from kindergartens, workplaces, universities and governments, you will see that the misuse of power and control in an intimate relationship is not a symptom of that one relationship – but reflects a wider social problem.

When John Howard was Australia’s Prime Minister, his political party pulled the plug on the airing of challenges against psychological abuse and power and control in a national public multi-media campaign. After a three-year market research project, costing the Australian government at least $3.53 million, the government withdrew the launch of the campaign at the last minute. The campaign slogan was going to be “No Respect, No Relationship”, but a new campaign was quickly developed to replace this with the slogan “Violence Against Women, Australia Says No”. The function of the original campaign was to help people understand that psychologically controlling forms of abuse, as well as physical and sexual abuse, are inappropriate ways for men to relate to women. The new campaign only depicted images of physical violence and rape. The new slogan had no bearing on what men do, rather only stated the government’s position. The Prime Minister stated in the foreword to the booklet that went to all Australian homes, that the government’s role was not “to tell people how to live their lives; our personal relationships are private”.

The way that gender operates in our society underpins domestic violence and family court judges’s decisions.

When you examine gender hierarchies, men are generally considered superior to women. There are hierarchies amongst men that consider some men to be more superior than other men – for example white middle class heterosexual men are considered to have greater social kudos and are often given more respect than black working class homosexual men. People at the top of hierarchies are often talked about in positive terms and people at the bottom are often blamed for being lazy, bludging, sick, irresponsible, bad people. These are gross stereotypical generalisations – but nonetheless hold sway in the public mind – and the minds of court judges.

Domestic violence is usually discussed in terms of who is responsible and who is to blame. Even if the man did use physical or sexual violence, public attitudes tend towards justifying, excusing, minimising or hiding men’s violence against women. Psychological abuse and non-physical tactics of control are already hidden and often so subtle, even the woman victim is not able to articulate what’s going on.

Public attitudes often consider men’s control over female partners as men’s legitimate right to uphold their male position as head of the house – thereby what they say goes. Women are perceived as provoking abuse and are held responsible for preventing or stopping it. These attitudes, along with the myth that it take two-to-tango and that men’s abuse is a symptom of the relationship, play a role in family court judges’s decisions.

Many judges collude with male perpetrators – especially middle to upper class men – they may engage in banter about sport for instance and the judge may rule in favour of the man. I read an example of this and in the end the judge dismissed the woman’s need for protection. The man later murdered his ex-partner. This killing might have been prevented if it was not for the judge being influenced by the dominant idea that domestic violence only occurs amongst working class groups or amongst non-white races.

Public attitudes and the structures of gender and power in our society play a major role in why family court judges make particular rulings. This means many women lose custody of their children despite their male partner having engaged in years of ongoing systematic damaging tactics of power and control.

I have written a blog about possible ways women can represent themselves in court documents and verbally in court – ways that do not play into stereotypes of passive, pathetic, mad, female victims.

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  • xoliswa 28 April 2012, 2:27 pm

    Linda your story is the same as mine. My name is Xoliswa. I’m here in South Africa. My girl she is 11 years old now she live with her father for 4 weeks now and the problem is he is so tired to live with her he need to send her to his mother to the village. My baby she don’t wanna see me coz we went to the social workers and I was so shocked when she told them that I beat her and I always talk bad about her father to her and she is not happy to stay with me and when she was with me she used to steal my money. When I ask her why is she doing this stealing my money, she will tell me that is her father who told her that she must do so. He used to abuse me and her and the other day when I was still with him, he poured petrol all over the house and locked me and my daughter inside the house and stand on the bedroom window with matches to burn us but he never lit them. So now I’m thinking of taking the matter to court for my daughter’s custody but what if my own daughter keeps telling lies about me, will I win this case? I’m scared coz my ex brainwashed my baby against me. What can I really do about this matter? PLEASE ADVISE ME PEOPLE. THANKS.

  • gmom1973 24 April 2012, 4:07 pm

    I also have lost my two boys to their father at the hands of the court system. There is truly no justice in our system!!! My middle son has Asperger’s syndrome and the guardian in our case chose not to accept the two diagnosis letters from doctors who hold Ph.D’s. Corrupt lawyers and judges are the reason that we are losing our children and I also fear that I will never get to be with my children again because I have no more money to fight…. I shouldn’t have to fight…. I took care of my children all along and just because an ex does not want to pay child support any more is not a good reason for giving custody to them. I had professionals in the medical and educational fields come to testify on my behalf and it was like the judge just did not care what anyone had to say on my behalf…. My heart is broken and I would like to speak with others in my situation… Please contact me at gmomatbigred [at] yahoo.com Thanks!!

  • Dawn 27 March 2012, 10:11 am

    I’m currently going through a living nightmare in Washington State (Thurston County Family Court).
    I started DV proceedings after enduring beyond abuse for more than 10 years. I knew it was time to put my own fears aside and do something for my 5 children, and it ended up backfiring after being awarded a permanent DV Protection Order in which the children were included on. Outside of DV court he was awarded physical care of the 2 youngest children whom were supposed to be protected from him, and fear him. As well as a biased commissioner, that I have proof of her lying as well as his attorney, but I’m too afraid and don’t have an attorney. Five months later he still has my babies on a generic temp order.

  • Linda 12 March 2012, 1:22 am

    Hi I’m reading all this – it’s like reliving the nightmare.
    I too was married to a controlling man who always threatened to destroy me if I left him…well he did…first he took most of our assets…then told my family he would kill me if I tried to get the money I deserved…then he started on my career by harrassing me daily with phone calls and abuse so I looked unprofessional and upset…then paid hardly any maintenance…then took our son. When I tried to get him back was thrown against a wall and strangled in front of the kids only to be saved by his girlfriend. Then he got the best lawyer in town who set me up, played games, then he started summonsing me to court saying I was refusing access to kids. In fact lies and more lies. Then he started threatening my boyfriend and used our son to steal from me and making him lie even to police. Then he took our daughter and when I tried to get her back he beat me and left me. Then taking me to court and saying I was an unfit mother. Yes I lost and had a complete breakdown…left with post traumatic stress unable to work and lost my unit and my heart.
    Seven years on the shit still goes on, he still taunts and threatens me. My kids no longer even come near me as he has brainwashed them. I’ll never give up on them.
    Pray for justice
    Linda xxxx

  • melissa 1 March 2012, 7:02 am

    Please let me know how it all ends, I was scared before I read this page – now I’m just terrified.

  • melissa 1 March 2012, 6:29 am

    Right now I’m going through a custody battle where my 10yr old had been raped repeatedly by his then girlfriend’s teenage son. Their father is also emotionally abusive to all of us and sometimes he gets physically abusive. I left him 10yrs ago but they’re portraying me as a jealous ex. He made $80,000 more than me last year. His lawyer is married to the family court judge, althouth we go to the courtroom right next door. When I tried getting the support he owed me, his lawyer and the prosecuters were giggling and laughing, so I’ve always been afraid. He’s always threatening to take them from me and now he’s trying and winning. He lives in Indiana and we live in Florida and custody is overseen in Indiana. I hired a guardian ad litem, and talking to her started to realize she wasn’t listening to anything from me and has believed everything he’s said without talking to the kids. In fact ordered me to let the grandma see them (she threw her own kids out). Then I found out the guardian ad litem was also a former family court judge there. The kids have been crying and begging not to go to his house for years. They really need help and the courts aren’t helping me keep them safe. Our son is 13 and gets physically ill anytime he has to go. Is there any help for kids anywhere? I’m getting deseperate, and they’re getting scared they’re going to end up with him. Even my daughter’s counselor is getting nervous. I can’t help her heal because their father hasn’t stopped harassing us.

  • Been through it too 28 February 2012, 4:41 am

    I’m shocked at just how many women have been (and still are) going through this. Nothing has changed since I first stood in court and watched them take my child away over 20 years ago. I was told my case was unusual, that custody being awarded in my favour was “in the bag”. More than a decade later and through multiple changes to the family court system I was still getting served. It left me broke (and paying child support to an abuser), my child had a nervous breakdown spending nearly a year in hospital. My own health deteriorated leaving me unable to work for extended periods of time and I will never again see the world as a civilised place the way I once did.

    There is little justice in the justice system even when justice is “seen to be done”. It can’t be relied upon and, even if resolved fairly, cannot undo the damage done. The courts seeming lack of compassion and common sense came as a shock.

    The court eventually acted in favour of the more litigious parties (although directing the courts attention to the number and nature of the complaints lodged and their outcome in order to request an order restraining certain litigious and coercive behaviour did slow them down).

    People were encouraged to lie/distort the truth more in affidavits and supporting documents than tax returns. Some of the tricks: perjuring himself, forging signatures (including signing for summons and other court doccuments meant for me), stealing and distorting the context of doccuments (including mail and discarded letters/bills/statements etc). Encouraged others to take part (including people I thought were on my side) and trying to build a rapport with those in positions of authority in an attempt to sway their judgement. Exploited precedents, tools and the system the court had in place in a way completely opposite to its original intent in order to stall, intimidate, misrepresent, inconvenience and financially cripple. Physically and financially tried to prevent me from appearing in court and blocked my access to support services. Incrementally undermined my position building one “compromise” upon the other until there was nothing left to compromise.

    I went to court with my eyes closed and it cost me dearly. If I’d known earlier what I was getting into (and how to avoid it) I would have been better prepared, played my cards closer to my chest, sought better support services and hired a more knowledgeable solicitor. If I’d known I’d end up in court to start with I would have left the state (at the time it was legal as long as there were no pending court cases) and spared all of us the trauma (thing was that’s exactly what my intuition was telling me to do and I was talked out of it).

    I don’t think making more changes to the family law will work, it’s too slow and self preserving. I think they need something like an inquest, we have the right political climate for it (it would be good to see a retired legal professional involved, might give the law a chance to redeem itself). I think we need to let the public know what’s going on, there’s too much shame, guilt and isolation being carried by people who weren’t responsible, and the media needs to ditch their hands off approach to family law as an entity and start taking real political risks again.

  • Jammie 26 February 2012, 8:17 pm

    Ann, my name is Jammie and I am from Lincoln, Illinois. When I read your post it brought tears to my eyes…hell, I even had to have a cigarette so that I could calm down. It made me relive moments of a very similar story in which I lost my 1 yr old son to my husband who was a teacher that had sex with a 16 yr old girl. My hopes for you and for everyone else on here is that we can be united in a way that contributes to getting the word out of the corrupt court system. There are no words to describe how unjust it is and how biased it is. It is always the woman who is mentally unstable…it is always the woman who is depressed and not mentally well enough to take care of the child. The reason……..because that is the only thing they can say…and that is a fact. Please do not give up no matter what and hold your head high. I believe in you and I believe in our fight 🙂

  • Jammie 26 February 2012, 8:10 pm

    You cannot give up. Please do not give up. Promise me that even through every tear, sleepless night, and unwillingness to want to keep the strength it takes to endure whatever the end result may be, you will not give up on you or your child. I am praying for you.

  • Jammie 26 February 2012, 8:06 pm

    To EVERY person that has responded on this, my heart truly goes out to you and your situation. I am touched by each individual story and cannot even begin to express my hurt for what you have been through. I too have been through the same situation. The one thing I think we should ALL think about is that we CANNOT GIVE UP. We owe this to our children. We have to find a way to get angry and fight for our children. I believe in God. It has been hard, very hard, but I believe that with each other, we can defeat the corrupt system. Women can vote now because of determination. Women get equal pay because of determination…this didn’t take days, weeks or months…it took years. But we have to think long term and come together….I am willing to do this. I believe in all of you and in all of your concerns. We deserve what is right for the sake of innocent children.

  • Amanda 26 February 2012, 10:33 am

    I had the same thing happen to me with losing my son. I got pregnant at 17 and when I became pregnant the father left us and didn’t return till my son was a year old. We both thought it would be a good idea to get married and create the “happy family” that lasted all of about a week. Right after we were married the abuse started he abused both me and my son physically and mentally. It lasted for 2 years before he got caught by one of my friends who he didn’t know was sleeping on the couch. After he threw the pitcher of kool-aid at me and she saw it he turned himself into the military and only got mandatory anger management. I will admit that he stopped the physical abuse but not the emotional abuse.

    I stayed married to him for 8 years before I finally had enough. He told me that he was getting stationed in England and I had let him know that if he was moving overseas that I would not be accompanying him. I let him know we had enough problems in our marriage without moving 10000 miles away from the people he would regularly drop me off at and leave me for months until he wanted me and my son back in his life. So when he moved to England and I did not go with him he told me he was sending me divorce papers. I told him that was fine.

    To get on my feet, my son stayed with my in-laws for 6 months while I got on my feet and got a job and a house for him and I to live in. When I got everything I set out to get I went to get my son (who I spoke to everyday and didn’t just abandon) and found out that my ex and his mother put a restraining order on me saying that I was not allowed to take my son out of the state he was in. I tried fighting it but kept getting continuances because my ex was out of the country.

    When the custody hearing finally came my ex admitted he was abusive admitted he left us all the time lied in court and got caught about it with his finances, yelled at the judge making me believe I had my case in the bag. I had a decent paying job a 3 bedroom house for my son, playmates for him and went the extra mile to make sure he was in the best school district in the state. I was so prepared and so happy that I thought I was getting my son back.

    The decision came down, my ex got physical custody and he was stationed in England. The papers read that because I smoked cigarettes (which to this day I still don’t get what that has to do with anything legal) because I had 2 jobs (I left the first one to get a higher paying job with stable M-F 9-5 schedule) and that I moved twice (I moved from a 1 bedroom apartment to a 3 bedroom house to accommodate my son) that I was unstable and therefore unfit to have physical custody.

    My ex took this and ran. He had told the courts that if he got custody he would move back state side so that my son could see more of me, he then turned around and volunteered to be stationed in Japan and then moved there for the next 4 years. He also said that he didn’t want child support from me because he knew I didn’t make a lot of money and it would be hard on me. I have to pay 478 a month in child support when I only made 1500 a month. I was not able to pay my child support every month and became behind on it. Because I was behind they sent out garnishments to my work and as soon as the garnishment came (though my work won’t admit it) I was fired 2 weeks later and haven’t been able to find work since.

    I am now thousands behind on my child support from being out of work for 6 months. I was supposed to get every other year for filing with taxes which would have brought my child support current but my ex filed before me and said because I was behind on it I don’t get to file and he has to sign something anyway for me to be able to file and he’s not signing it.

    Being in Japan I barely get to talk to my son since he is 17 hours ahead of me and when it’s night here it’s day there and he’s in school which makes it more difficult for me to find a time to even talk to him. I am at my breaking point and have never felt this much pain and despair in my life. My ex isn’t taking proper care of my son which I find out when he does come and visit. He comes with severe cases of athlete’s foot, toe nails wrapped around his foot, clothes two sizes too small, shoes that don’t fit him and the list goes on and when I make calls about it I’m told I am just the disgruntled ex wife.

    I have no help or support so if anyone can list anything with blogs or places that help or have support groups for people like me it would be much appreciated. I feel like I am up the creek without a paddle and sinking quickly, please help.

  • dani 20 February 2012, 10:56 am

    I think I always had a gut feeling that from the day I left my abusive ex back in 2008, that he would eventually ‘get me back’ by getting residency of our now 8 year old son. I am now facing this possibility in court even though I now have residency, and reading all the stories, it looks as though in spite of what my son wants (to continue to live with me), and in spite of the fact my ex is a sociopathic monster abuser, I will lose my son. If I lose my son, I will not survive. This world is a very, very nasty place x

  • Rachel 14 February 2012, 2:26 pm

    Hi I know I have four kids. Three boys now live with an abusive ex and they were taken off me after the ex bribed them and told cops I had abused them it costs me over 100 dollars a month to see them now. Ex wants me to chat with him so he looks good and I refuse as I can’t handle mind games. Take care I know it’s hard.

  • anonymous 3 February 2012, 5:19 am

    Just last week my 6 year old daughter who I have raised from birth was awarded to the father by a custody evaluator. My daughter and I have always lived in Salt Lake City and her father has always lived in Alaska. He got an attorney in Salt Lake and we went through the process of the evaluator. I have been down this 7 years ago and lost my son to his father. I am a good stable mother, buying a house, same job for 16 years. No record of anything and I still lost my little girl. She is on the autism spectrum and the evaluator didn’t believe it even with a diagnosis from another PHD. I don’t sleep at night and have to make peace that I may never see my little girl again because I don’t have a million dollars to fight this.

  • Susan 1 February 2012, 11:34 pm

    I got 7 weeks per year also, I am so sorry. I feel the same way, I get to see my son on the webcam 3 times per week and 6 weeks in winter holidays and 10 days at Christmas. I can’t believe it either.

  • Susan 1 February 2012, 11:16 pm

    I know what you mean, I think that after reading all this, there is no way I will ever get custody back. I got refused legal aid for my appeal anyway but I am still going to go for a reconsideration, because the judge never wanted to hear about the violence, even though I’ve got no more fight left in me I can’t give up I know I am fighting a losing battle but I just can’t give up I never stop fighting for my son.

  • Susan 1 February 2012, 10:56 pm

    I know that my boy will come home too when he can, I hope that the naxt 12 years go by fast.

  • Susan 1 February 2012, 10:39 pm

    Hi, the same thing has recently happened to me. I can’t believe it. The worst thing for me is I live in New Zealand, and my ex lives in North Carolina. I have raised my son since he was born on my own, and now he’s gone to live with his abusive father I get to see him twice a year. 🙁 I really need to talk with some other Moms… I know that my boy will come home too when he can, I hope that the next 12 years go by fast.

  • Betiel 29 January 2012, 3:26 pm

    Wow never knew a lot of woman go through this until now that I’m going through this. I was engaged to an abuser and left him after a couple times that he hit me, choked me and threatened me with the knife when I was pregnant. Well I had a healthy baby boy despite all the stress I was going through. Well after I had my baby I let him see my son every weekend but I always had somebody with me and I met him in public place. To make the story short my dad was ill so I traveled with my 4month old son at that time overseas and I got back after a few months. Even though the father was informed where I went and my contact number (by the way our family know each other very well that’s how I met him and I’m from very very small country where everybody knows everybody) and I got back a few months ago and started working. Next thing I know I was arrested for child abduction and my son was taken away by his father. I was still breast feeding him at that time, my son never spent a single night away from me. I missed his first xmas, first birthday just because I refused to be with the abuser and he wants to break me. Now I’m fighting for me and my son. It breaks my heart I have no contact with my son – it’s been 6 weeks. The father lied about serving me, he went to family court asking for joint custody knowing I’m not in the state, since he pretends not to know where I was at, he got temp full custody. Just evil. I can use advice please email me at bitat1 [at] yahoo.com

  • Ann 21 January 2012, 4:32 pm

    Amber your story IS mine, this is scary the only difference is the forensic evaluator in my case report was 30 pages. I also had a mental evaluation prior to my divorce and I have been seeing a phsyciatrist for zoloft (symptoms of anxiety after a passing in my family) for two years and I have been evaluated on a monthly basis and have no symptoms (other than what I mentioned above) such as the forensic evaluator described me through the court. I had my daughter taken away from me and given my husband temporary full custody until the end of January when there will be a hearing. This all happened two days before Christmas and I only got to spend 8 hours the day before Christmas and with supervised visitation! After that day I didn’t get to see her for 16 days, and my ex doesn’t let me speak to her even though it was a court order. I now get to see her every other weekend and once a week for 6 hours. I was the primary caretaker and a stay at home mother since her birth. I’m terrified of losing her permanently and I’m running out of time…! Our stories are almost identical, I’m in NYC I’m wondering if perhaps we had the same court appointed people involved. Please e-mail me (Elisabethson [at] gmail.com), maybe we can help each other.

  • Ann 21 January 2012, 4:18 pm

    Amy, My story is very similar. My heart goes out to you. I haven’t completely lost yet, but I have heard from numerous sources that I don’t stand a chance against my abusive alcoholic and drug taking husband. I am not going to give up hope and I will fight for her if there is any way at all that I can get in contact with you please let me know!

  • Danielle 20 January 2012, 5:29 am

    I replied to some stories, I was hoping I was the only one in the world going through this, for every other child’s sake, but unfortunately I’m not. I live in Australia and my ex husband (a politician and lawyer) was very emotionally abusive and occasionally physically. I was always degraded, especially sexually. I have a son who is now 5. When he just turned 3, I couldn’t take the abuse and threats anymore, I made the decision to save myself and go to the police. My son and I were placed in a refuge and he was arrested and charged with dv and there was an AVO placed on him. I went to the police because I had no family in NSW and I wasn’t allowed friends. When the police told me he was to be arrested, I begged them not to because I knew he would be coming for me. When he was charged, the police also took 4 guns from him which in the 4 year relationship, I did not know they existed. I felt my gut feelings were right to run that night. He had threatened to kill me many times before this. A month later I went to visit my family in WA. During that visit an article was published in the newspaper (as he is a politician) he phoned me 30 times that day (in breach if his AVO) I answered a couple of them, he was angry and told me I was dead. Well I didn’t return to NSW that week because I knew I wasn’t safe and my son was taken from me by his father with a judge’s order. I was heartbroken. His father never changed a nappy, or did anything because that was a woman’s job and he worked. There was no bond because his father would hit him in the head and belt him with whatever he could grab if he made a mess. He was scared of his dad. I went to criminal court regarding the domestic violence and the charge was dismissed because there were no witnesses or physical injuries. The AVO still stood though and the judge pointed out the dishonestly in my husband’s story. (Dishonesty is not a valid reason to charge someone, only physical evidence.) I managed to get a visit with my son after a lot of obstacles. I was allowed 3 hours and my son begged me to hold him the whole time. When I handed him back, he was so scared, he was grinding his teeth. At midnight his father told me I had broken my sons leg and he had been in hospital all night. His father didn’t want me to have another visitation with my son. My son a year later brought this up and told me that his dad punched and squashed his leg after mummy gave him his Teddy. (That is what I gave him on my visitation.) There was an AVO breach hearing scheduled a few months later in the criminal court but was dismissed early that morning, I was not given a proper reason but I will say me ex husband’s sister worked for the DPP at that time and not long after resigned. I had a significant amount of evidence and the police said they have never heard of anything like this happening. Now family court, my husband’s family owned a family law firm which represented him, as well as himself being a lawyer. He also had a barrister who was a family friend representing him. I had myself with no knowledge and no money. I did have a job, but nothing special. It was so traumatizing for me, I had to face my attacker and his entourage of power. The judge did not acknowledge a thing and he was frustrated at my lack of court room etiquette and vocabulary. I did bring to his attention the police documents with the other dv reports by other women and my ex husband’s admittance into psychiatric care. As well as major inconsistencies in his material and child abuse reports and my own dv records from when my son was 2 months old. I had no police records other than the ones I filed against my husband and no mental health records. The judge told me I was deluded and paranoid because I still fear this man and has ordered me to see a psychologist. He gave my ex husband full custody and I get to see my son for half of the school holidays (7 weeks a year). I still can’t get my head around it all and this is the short story, there is so much more of what my ex husband has done but it seems no one cares or can do anything.

  • Danielle 20 January 2012, 4:12 am

    Molly, it is so true, it’s been 2 years for me since I lost my son to an abuser and I still can’t understand why, so many records against my ex husband and it didn’t mean a thing. I had to run my own case in NSW, I had no money and didn’t have a chance. My sons interests weren’t on the table. When you are so abused, your child is the only light in the darkness and to know your baby is placed permanently in that environment without you, it is very hard to understand.

  • Danielle 20 January 2012, 3:58 am

    Me too, I left violence. My ex husband has got my son after having 4 other dv records by other women and a psychiatric history. I was put in a refuge by the police and he threatened to kill me several times and I went to my family in another state and I lost all parental rights to my son. There are records of child abuse against my son as well but I had no money for a lawyer and my ex was one. I know my son is being abused but I can’t do anything, I want to protect him but I have no rights. I have no criminal or psychiatric history and I grieve constantly.

  • Amber 29 December 2011, 8:54 pm

    I am set to lose custody of my child in the morning due to an abusive ex who looks great on paper, and has tons of money, as well as a biased custody evaluator who is essentially a hired gun. The report with recommendations didn’t come in until today but the judge wouldn’t allow a continuance so, therefore, not enough time to prepare an adequate defense. This evaluator lied so much in his report, that it would take me all day to write down the lies dispersed over 40 pages.

    My heart is breaking right now. My daughter is 5 and she has been my world since the day she was born. My mind keeps running over memories and flashes of her from birth to now. There is no way I can win this one.

    I am a great mother. Not a perfect mother, but a great mother. My child has been alienated as well by her father and stepmother and no one will listen to me. The guardian ad litem hated my ex but now she’s siding with the evaluator? The family court system is corrupt. Biased evaluators need to have consequences for their actions. I will be filing a complaint with the licensing board and the APA.

    FYI, I’m also a licensed mental health counselor with concentrations in child development. Yet, somehow I don’t know how to effectively discipline my child? I call bull.

    I don’t know what to do anymore.

  • Anonymous 28 December 2011, 5:56 pm

    I’m glad I read this. My kids were taken away. I am a good mother had a stable home and a Job. But remarried and ex got upset and got a good lawyer and my children are gone. I cry every night wishing my kids were home with me. Money does play a big role on the court system. Sorry to say I don’t trust the law any more.

  • Clare 5 November 2011, 4:16 pm

    D – you can check out what support you could get from The Protective Mother’s Alliance – I wish you well. Clare

  • D 5 November 2011, 7:12 am

    Is there a support group website, counseling, advice, anything to get me through losing my son in a custody battle. I have been divorced for 8 years and have lost primary custodianship. We have been doing week on week off since the decision since Oct 2010. My ex has since moved over an hour away but still within the 75 miles. My son hated the week on week off because he lived primarily with me and I was the custodial parent. We just finished up court this next go around. I took him back to court because my son would be in a car traveling to and from school for almost 3 hours a day when he was with me. The move was not necessary. That was just where his wife was from and where she wanted to move. I again tried to be the bigger person and not bring all kinds of witnesses in and just make it short. It is joint custody but he won custodial because he was apparently more stable because he was remarried, had never been physically abused as a child, raped in college, or depression. All happened in my past but, was used against me. I received an email stating that they were moving to this particular town and as soon as he knew the address he would let me know. I was devastated. He never discussed this with me and gave no notice. Less than a week later he sent me an email stating that by the time my son and I would be back from Disney World they would have been moved. I called disagreeing to the move and in court this week he said I never disputed it. My attorney made him aware of it by me filing 7 days after I received the email. Anyway, my attorney got him to admit he didn’t discuss the move because I didn’t discuss a move I had made that was only from one block to the next. A “tit-for-tat” type of thing. I gave up time with my son after trying the drive back and forth to school for two weeks. My son hated the drive. He told the guardian adlidem he wants to stay with me and go back to his old school. The judge has not made the decision yet but, I just know I will lose and am so scared. My ex has told so many lies on the stand and just makes me out to be this horrible mother who does not even want to see her son when in fact I gave up my time so he would not have to be torchered by the drive. I have always put his needs first. But, there is no feeling that is worse than losing your child especially when he hates it and you can do nothing about it. I have since remarried and am pregnant with my second child. My husband always talks about what an amazing mother I am but, the judgement from the court over-powers that. I’m scared, I’m sad, hurt, devastated. And it’s happening all over again. Please help with any words of encouragement.

  • Kat 29 October 2011, 1:38 pm


  • Kat 29 October 2011, 1:32 pm

    Hi all, I need help. I finally plucked up the courage to fight for full custody and have managed to gather funds for legal advice. I need to do a timeline of what has happend in the last few years. But I’m scared. What do I write? If I tell the truth the court will think I’m weak and I will lose my kids. I live in Australia but have no family and very few friends. I am South African and feel so alone and truly scared. I’ve been divorced for 3 yrs and I am worse off than when I was married to him. At least then the kids did not suffer as I was his emotional punch bag. PLEASE PLEASE HELP MUMS AND DADS I WANT TO DO THE BEST FOR MY KIDS.

  • Amy 4 October 2011, 9:10 am

    My name is Amy, and I too have lost my precious daughter due to a Biased, Spiteful, Unlawful and Discriminatory Judge and Law Guardian!! My ex-husband of 8 years abused me both physically and mentally on a daily basis, he threatened me that if I EVER tried to take his child away from him I would never succeed, and he was right!

    My story is long and heartbreaking, but here it goes…

    My ex and his family are from a very small town, where jobs are scarce and officials are shady and completely unlawful, for over 20 years his parents operated the most successful business in town and were very well known. 6 years ago, when my daughter was 1 we moved to that little town to take over the business so his parents could retire.

    IMMEDIATELY my ex threw himself into everything that had to do with the town and making his name a household name, he donated money to beautification projects, became the campaign director for the re-election of the Judge that eventually took my daughter from me, took town officals golfing and to expensive dinners, etc. Within less then 2 years he was sitting on the board of directors and rubbing elbows with the entire “system”! He planned his strategy perfectly and knew exactly what he was doing.

    While this was going on I raised my daughter ALONE, he was never home, and when he was, he was drunk and beating on me! My first mistake was never reporting him, I was just to terrified!

    Years passed, he cheated, partied, traveled and became more and more violent, but nobody EVER saw what went on behind closed doors or would ever believe me. He controlled every move I made, I was not allowed to have friends or visit my family, my daughter and I were totally under his thumb!

    Finally I could not take it anymore, after a night of a severe drunken nightmare I decided to immediately file for immediate, temporary custody and a restraining order, of course the Judge, (his buddy) denied me and sent us back home to what became MY WORST NIGHTMARE!

    As soon as my ex found out what I was trying to do he jumped into action! He hired the best lawyer and began to falseify a TOTAL character assasination on me. He threw me out of our home, (which was allowed because we had divorced a year before my daughter was born but only briefly separated, and the house was in his name alone.) And due to the fact that neither of us had custody yet, I could not take my daughter out of state without his permission, and vice versa.) The only place I had to go was home to my mother, who lives in the next state over, 2 1/2 hours away. I could not believe that i was not allowed to take my child with me! I was made to leave without my daughter! How could he get away with this!

    My ex was ALONE with my little girl! and he refused to let me see her! I told my court appointed lawyer what he was doing, and Nothing was done! The judge would not make him let me see my daughter!

    My lawyer obviously did not care seeing she was not getting paid, I was just another faceless person she had to deal with.

    2 months later our court case came, my ex’s lawyer presented a case to the Judge making me out to be a manic depressive who lived with her mother and could not provide for her child, it was also stated that I abused prescription drugs (But i was denied a drug test!) I do not abuse drugs in any way but i was denied my right to prove to the court that i was completely drug free!

    I had a great case against my ex, i had witnesses of his abuse, i had 15 business and personal character reference letters, letters from my church, a mental health evaluation which i passed with flying colors, etc!
    The judge had absolutely no interest in my case against him, or my proof. His judgement was premeditated, calculated and spiteful.
    The judges final decision was this:
    My ex-husband was given “full custody” of my daughter!
    I was given one day a week “visitation”!!!!!
    I was in complete and utter shock, as we walked out of the courtroom everything went black and i fainted.
    I am in utter despair, when i see my daughter she cries uncontrollably for me and begs me to take her with me! She is so confused and i try my best to explain to her that i will get her back and to try very hard to be brave, she is so very smart and she understands what is going on. I truely cannot explain the utter excruciating pain and hopelessness you feel when your child is suffering and there is nothing you can do to help or comfort them, it is by far the worst experience a human being can go through!
    My daughter is my entire life, she is my reason for living, and to know that she has been taken from her mother by a corrupt judge is more then i can take.
    I am writing letters, i am trying to get our case appealed by the new york appellate court, i am going to contact the attorney general, the newspapers, and any, and all, other entities that will listen to me!!!
    Please, if anyone is experiencing this horrible injustice by a corrupt judge, a biased law guardian, or being totally destroyed by the “family court system” in general, please speak up!!! Make your story heard!!!! Do not let these people take our children from loving and competant mothers!!!
    I need any and all help and support i can get, and we all need to come together to put an end to the suffering of our children!!!

    Thank you for listening,

    – Amy

  • Gravely Disappointed in Our Legal System 22 August 2011, 9:25 pm

    Haven’t checked this page for some time. I, too, am a working mother who lost custody of my child, all of my assests, to include the house and college savings I had started for my daughter. For the “rules” defined by the legal system that I follow, I get to see my daughter every other weekend, pay a significant amount of child support, in addition to the dv perpetrator’s legal fees for the appeal that I lost. Yes, the court, particularily the defending lawyer, played me out to be the lesser parent based on dishonest testimonies from those who defended him. I thought my factual evidence of dv would hold up as I was able to make it to court all four times. But it was not significant enough. Although I appealed the decision, the appellate system merely reassured me the entire legal system is broken; they read through the falsely concocted documents the defending lawyer submitted and repeated everything that was originally stated. Lawyers and judges have taken Constitutional rights way out of control just to satisfy their personal gratifications.

  • Amy 16 August 2011, 2:11 am

    I am a mother who has lost custody to an abusive ex. The abuse is no longer physical but nonetheless it DEFINATELY continues not only for me but also my child. The father who gained physical custody and final decision making did 7 yrs in a florida prison for 2nd degree attempted murder charges! I truly feel I have a better chance of saving my son by fighting this myself. Both parents have been required to take hair follicle drug tests but of course I am the only one who has submitted and obviously I passed, as I told the court I would. Please we cannot allow our children to continue to suffer please. we have to work together to save our children. He continues to be abused by the father stepmother stepbrother and step g/mom. The father is trying to completely remove him from my life. I must save my baby. Please I need support, please respond to me. Amy (mommy2tony0508 [at] yahoo.com)

  • Sharon 31 July 2011, 2:42 am

    Jackie, please contact me by email if you want to talk. I may be able to help you! peacebabies [at] yahoo.com

  • Jackie 28 July 2011, 11:18 pm

    I too, as of April 2011, have lost custody of my 9 year old daughter to my ex-husband who is a part time parent, and his new wife is spending more time with her than either of us. He makes 140,000 a year and I have to pay him child support. I have never been associated with a person who is so premeditated, calculated and spiteful. I cry every day that I am not with her and I am having a really difficult time. My relationship with her has changed as he is so controlling that he tells her what she can talk about with me and what she can’t. She is very reluctant to talk on the phone. Now he is controlling that to include my standard weekend visitation. I just don’t understand WHY money makes him more fit than me.

  • Sharon 18 July 2011, 1:33 am

    I am stunned that this happens all over the world. And I realize now, reading so many of these comments, that my horrible situation was decent by comparison. He took my little boys from me, but was not physically abusive, just mentally. My heart truly goes out to all of you who are suffering, and to your babies!

    But it was all about the money. I had a lovely house in a good, safe, pretty neighborhood, but he made six figures a year. Now that my little boys have grown up and turned 18 they have come back home and no longer speak to him, by their own choice. He can’t control them anymore, and I’m sure he is suffering for it. There is justice, but it doesn’t come in the way you hope for. Take heart, women of the world. You will have victory one day, even if it is bittersweet.

    Anyone who wants to contact me for support, use my email: peacebabies [at] yahoo.com

  • Tracy 30 May 2011, 7:30 am

    I’ve been reading through your entire blog, am very interested in this subject. I’m from the US, and was surprised to read how similar women are treated in Australia, especially concerning domestic abuse and losing child custody battles. Another aspect that is often overlooked by men who whine about women having custody of children, is that a woman who loses custody of her children is viewed as a vile person. She’s labeled a bad mother, if not directly by the courts, certainly by society.

  • Clare 26 May 2011, 9:46 pm

    Thank you everyone who is commenting on problems relating to the courts. I read all your comments before I approve them and I take them into account when considering topics for future blog posts. Your input into this website is enormously appreciated by readers who do and don’t comment. Thank you. Clare.

  • Rachael 26 May 2011, 8:05 pm

    Hello, Clare. Rachael here from Christchurch New Zealand. You are so right the family court system can be used for power problems. When you see a woman upset in court often she’s been submitted to years of blaming behaviours, not to mention denial of any sort of abuse. (This never happened and the women has no proof. Makes you feel like your crazy in your head, you wonder if it happened at all.) Minimising the man’s involvement in awful things is typical of the New Zealand system also. They become the victims. The problem with the court system is that it expects women to MANAGE men they have often been abused by and are often trying to get away from. Often these same women have already protected these men for a long time before they have ever said anything to anybody else about any abuse ever occurring. As you say they have no ability to articulate it. They are so busy in crisis and blaming themselves they are totally confused. Always trying to make things right so they do not displease the man any further. They have no time to analyse or recognise what is going on until they get to their wits end and say something or someone gives them a book. (An excellent one is Invisible Wounds: A Self-help Guide for Women in Destructive Relationships by Kay Douglas.) By this time the woman is often so traumatised her behaviour reflects the partner’s dysfunctional behaviour in a different way. Yelling and screaming! Defensiveness! Bitterness! She finally told, but everyone wants to know where her proof is. She has none. (Unless someone clicked that time she was wearing a winter long polo neck top! in the middle summer and happened to get curious, ask questions, and pull it down subsequently seeing the bruises around her neck. She has protected him in the hope that he will change, that she will understand and make things better for him. She makes excuses. Finally, she gets the guts to tell and it’s her word against his. She gets defensive and comes across as guilty. All the courts hear is I, I, I, I!!!!!! The courts state the man has a clean slate and the woman then has to deal with an angry man over his children, often one who feels very powerful because he has got away with it all!! The woman doesn’t have the skills, she has been worn down and discarded her skills because they haven’t worked. She has to relearn them, and better ones.

    If she is lucky he might just be passive aggressive, he will withhold the child’s favourite toys and then deny having them, etc. This sort of behaviour is to get her worked up. Trap her in the toilet, when she drops or picks the child up, treating her like it is his god forsaken right to take what he wants! then he will go off with another woman. He wants a reaction, he wants control back. He wants the children. He wants you to lose it so he can get a protection order. He wants at least half custody.

    I wander how the courts expect her to keep it together. Not only is she afraid but she is not believed. . . .

    I know not all men are bad. And often some of these men and women are really just not good communicators and things have got out of hand. But to expect women that never had the tools to keep a man that loses it managed in the first place might just be a little unrealistic. If he is like this with his wife, how’s he going to cope with the children!!!!! It’s a terrifying court, oops I mean thought. I would say a lot of women will be walking off just like men have in the past. I wonder what outcome that will be for the children? Should women be allowed to move on as well?

  • Molly 17 February 2011, 4:23 pm

    After reading all of the above I have to say that although we think we are living in a civilised country – in this case Australia – women are completely at the mercy and whims of the law and the courts. How can a judge even consider giving a child to a person with a record of violence, drug abuse or pedophilia? But it happens every day in our Family Court which seems not to consider the child at all.

  • Kimberly 20 December 2010, 10:10 am

    The court systems are about who you know and how much money you have. I had my son his whole life and when I was going through a divorce my first husband claimed my family was sexually abusing my son. The two men became best buds, ganged up against me to take both kids from me, and after investigation it was proven not true. I had proof for the judge, testimony, and he got custody because his family put up more money and knew people in the town. I have custody of my daughter and being the great mom I’ve always been. I want someone to tell me how we can fight against this happening and ruining children’s lives.

  • Michelle 29 August 2010, 3:14 pm

    Hi everyone, it’s nice to see I am not the only one. I have 3 kids the youngest is 4 and I have not seen her for a year and a half. She was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsey @ 2years of age and I was with her in the nicu unit when she was born prematurely everyday, 18 hours a day for 6 weeks, and with her for 3 years straight everyday getting her the best therapy possible. Her father was a drug user, which I did not find out until later, he had a criminal record for that and assault and battery. During the 4 years I was with him, he was arrested for assault and battery & kidnapping mulitple times against me & our daughter, but never stayed in jail long, he was always out. After the last incident in which I saw him in March of 2009 he attempted to throw me out of the car in front of our daughter who was witnessing from the back seat, he got arrested,Ii got hurt. Me and her got thrown out of his mom’s house and I ended up homeless eventually living out of my car. After this incident my daughter and I went to court every 2 weeks to extend the restraining order. On the 3rd attempt to my surprise, he was there with a lawyer and family and friends whom most I have not met or know well. He was still facing the previous charges, so I figured something was up and he was trying to make me look unfit to get his way out. They tried to commit me under false allegations, and it did now work, I stood in the court room 6 hours in handcuffs humiliated, defending myself acting as my own lawyer. However the judge gave my estranged aunt whom was close to my abuser temporary guardianship. I have not seen my little girl for over a year. He was awarded sole custody in June, 2010, even though he is living at home with his mom and I have paperwork that she gave me stating that no children could live in her 55 plus community, his pending trial, his drug use, etc. My daughter is living with him and his mom, his mom was arrested for shoplifting and she is a nurse that got her licence suspended because of stealing narcotics from elderly patients. I made copies of all this just in case anything happened, but it did not help. I just became a statistic. And my heart stopped beating. Since then it has taken me almost 6 months to get a visitation with my daughter which was supposed to commence on Monday the 30th, but I just recieved a letter that my abuser put a motion into the court to delay the visitation because he was having behavioral issues with her, I wonder why. My daughter has been abused by him, DSS has done nothing but take his side. I have been hit, kicked, cut, thrown, choked, controlled, isolated, manipulated, and lied to for 4 years, but he continues to control me through this and place fear in my life. I was just only recently able to sleep with my door unbarracaded by furniture, but the bureau is back. Since this I am a Salem State University Dean’s list student and studying forensic science and have a criminal justice degree, and have been volunteering with my church and the homeless, it gives me focus that all of this did not happen for no reason, that I got stronger, but emptier. I thought I was in this boat alone, but I am not, I wish I could take the pain away from everyone in my position, because I know all too well how it feels. I will pray for all the victims, the hopeless, the fallen, and the fighters.

  • concerned 21 August 2010, 6:43 pm

    My 7 year old son and I recently have fallen victim of a corrupt family court system. His father left when I was pregnant, I was left alone to raise my son, I did it with so much pride and love. He so quickly became my everything to me before he was even born!

    We moved on with our lives just the 2 of us, I met a man who was to become the father of his little baby brother.

    In the 5 years of this relationship it ended with much violence coming from him being obsessive controlling and manipulative, just plain scary! A multiple personality disorder although never diagnosed! When he left he went and told nasty lies about me, to turn all the blame on me. When my oldest son’s father was told those lies he went to get custody of my son! Although I had left this man 6 months prior to court date the moment he became violent he was gone, outta our lives!

    I suppose that it’s ok to leave bruises on a child from a belt because you didn’t regain control and give yourself time to calm down! He himself admitted to this and I had pictures to back it up! However he still won in court and the custody flip flopped – I get every other weekend now!!! Simply because I did the right thing and left my ex! It’s being appealed or in the process, my son refuses to leave his home, his brother, all his family, and most of all his Momma! All his 7 years! have been with me! I lived and breathed my 2 little boys! Had 2 men who have convinced the court hes’ a better parent cause guess why?!?!? HE makes a $150,000! annually! I guess you can buy love?!?! Since when?!?!

    I am a working mother but made sacrifices to spend more time with my boys while they were still young and before school, now my youngest is in school. I plan to fight this battle with every ounce of my heart. Being strong and never losing complete faith! I will regain control and have my son back home where he belongs!

  • Angel 2 June 2010, 11:34 pm

    I agree with you Natalie. We have been abused, beaten, battered and broken. How can we look happy and stable and normal after such treatment? Yet we have our kids taken away because they think we cant cope. Of course we can’t cope with what we have been through. I had my daughter taken from me by my ex and the courts. He abused me and the kids. I was a mess. Now after all this they are saying I have borderline personality disorder which I have never been diagnosed with. I think it’s more like post traumatic stress abusive husband syndrome.

  • Coral 11 May 2010, 2:25 pm


    (and to loving fathers and grandparents, too) who have permanently lost their children through America’s corrupt Family Court system.
    A Mother Does Not Forget Her Children: First March on Washington for Mothers of Lost Children.
    A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground. Then it is done, no matter how brave its warriors, nor how strong their weapons. – Cheyenne Proverb
    Read entire article: http://www.salem-news.com/articles/may082010/lost-moms-ct.php
    SILENT VIGIL AT WHITE HOUSE (WASHINGTON D.C.) – Nurturing and loving mothers losing permanent custody of their children is such depressing subject matter. But we cannot indefinitely avoid depressing subject matter, particularly if it is true
    Most individuals prefer not to hear the story of how a cultured people turned a blind eye to consenting to the “legal kidnapping of children through America’s family courts” and how the majority of our society, consisting of cultured people, remained silent.
    Read entire article: http://www.salem-news.com/articles/may102010/lost-children-ct.php

  • Anonymous 24 April 2010, 9:02 am

    I just read your “about” page: https://www.speakoutloud.net/about-clare/. I’m going to link to it next chance I get, on my blogroll.

    I’ve had to deal with a sister thing (from the underside) — they are currently attempting to drive my custody battle, and immediately after I filed for restraining order, sprang out of the woodwork to side with my batterer. More and more overtly as I began to assert myself. It’s been AWFUL….

    We all take our own approaches, and a recent one of mine is the decision to boycott churches. PERIOD! Each time I wander back in (I am a Christian), I’m shocked again about the vicious control that lurks beneath the surface, and behind that is yes, sexism, and the love of money. They need the men’s money and the women’s (free) services, and of course when it comes to access to vulnerable boys & girls, I’ll stop right there.

    I was used as a surrogate Mom by both the ex, AND a sister who elected abortion. Her husband, it turns out (I’ve finally concluded) is simply a psychopath, and what it’s about (I’ve come to realize) is our family’s wealth. It was never about my kids — he doesn’t care enough about other people as people, although they were his ticket to that wealth. It’s sickening.

  • Anonymous 24 April 2010, 8:54 am

    I’m a noncustodial mother who lost her kids to FELONY child-stealing in California, and it was handled in Family Court as another day in the life of professionals making a living off our tragedies. I have given you someone else’s email from a website that I believe nails the “what’s going on in the courts” situation — http://nafcj.net/. The WEBSITE, though, is my blog. (i.e., I wish to remain anonymous). I heard about this article through a noncustodial mothers group I’m in.

    While what you say is relevant, and true, the heart of the matter is that, at least in our area, we are losing custody because of corrupt judges, and because the cases go where the money and job referrals are. The family courts, designed to cover up domestic violence and child abuse, are of course not going to naturally take this into account. They are where batterers go to hide. Violation of due process (see US Bill of Rights) is needed for this to happen. ….It’s a system-wide scam, and at the heart of it is money. .. If you go for the “gender” tactic, all that I believe will happen is that the public (which, let’s presume is split about half men, half women) is going to take one side or the other. So much the better for the litigation industry! . . . . . .

    But if you start looking at where nonprofits (again, I’m talking US) are actually doing with some of the funds that are supposed to fix this — and I do this in my blog — you will find that, male or female, the split is between the professionals (including government agencies and nonprofits) and experts, including in fields that have sprung up from this very split, and the “subject matter” of the litigation, parents and children, and specifically mothers and THEIR children. Unless we accept HOW immoral and megalomaniac many of our “rulers” (those who run institutions) are, we are going to continue getting fleeced.

    Got to run. Have a nice day.

  • Clare 14 April 2010, 12:16 am

    Check out the blog I wrote that discusses the difference between using language to describe the effects and impact of psychological abuse and control versus the language to describe women’s multiple strategies of resisting abuse and control. Check the blog post titled “Language women should use in the Family Court”. . . Clare

  • david 13 April 2010, 9:26 am

    I too would like to hear the follow up. Through my step daughter, my wife is still being abused by her former partner. We have had great difficulty in persuading anybody that the abuse is still continuing.

  • natalie 30 March 2010, 4:43 am

    I would love follow up on how women who have incurred abuse can represent themselves in a manner that shows a judge the victim is stable. Of course we have been passive, angry and on egg shells … where we have come from and where are we now. Encouragement to prove mental stability, strength to protect, let the court be aware that you are fighting for your child for the right reasons.