Most mothers in Ohio who are going through a divorce assume that if their children are being abused by their husbands, they will be given custody. However, new research has shown that it is not always, or even often, the case. A new study that examined more than 2000 child custody cases showed that fathers are given equal or greater parenting time, even when abuse is alleged or proven.
These decisions are often the result of long-held but unproven beliefs that parental alienation is pervasive. The parental alienation theory, a belief that one parent has turned a child against the other parent, was put forth in the 1980s by psychiatrist Richard Gardner. Though his work was never recognized by the American Medical Association or the Psychiatric Association, it has become commonly accepted by judges, lawyers, and psychologists. Unfortunately, acceptance of this theory has led to an estimated 58,000 children per year being placed with or allowed unsupervised visitation with an abusive parent.
The financial toll of this practice is devastating for parents of any income, leading to court battles that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The toll on emotions is even worse, with loving parents losing sole custody of their children and having their relationships with their children thwarted by an abusive parent. The researchers are hoping that this new evidence will equip judges to make more informed decisions that are in the best interest of the child.
Parents who are divorcing and concerned about visitation, joint custody, or another child custody dispute might benefit from the advice of an attorney with experience in family law. A lawyer may be able to help with these and other issues such as grandparents’ rights, relocation, agreement modification, and enforcing a child custody order, leading to a better outcome for everyone involved.