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Sturm College of Law


Effective representation, Domestic violence, Protection order


Legal representation is a critical tool for survivors of domestic violence to live free from their battering partners. Representation in custody and visitation matters-- integral issues in the separation context--is particularly consequential for survivors. First, studies of custody litigation indicate that fathers who battered the mothers of their children are twice as likely to seek sole physical custody as are nonviolent fathers. Batterers are as likely as nonbattering fathers to prevail. Since the 1970s, fathers in general have been at a marked advantage in custody disputes. Second, custody and visitation claims involve a complex array of legal issues, laws, practices, and procedures including jurisdiction, standing, discovery, evidence presumptions, and the interplay of federal and state law. Third, separation increases the survivor's risk of violence by the batterer. This context requires us to consider innovative legal strategies and assess personal assumptions to afford survivors of domestic violence the relief that they seek and the justice that they deserve.

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