A Minute to Myself (106)
Sashay Sashay Right out of Lowe’s

Divorce and Custody: Virginia Style and American Style

This is what I found when I was searching the name of one of the bastard lawyers my nice lawyer told me about: the Mommy Go Bye Bye blog.

And this is the paragraph that stopped me:

Virginia judges say a father may hurt the mother of his child, by abusing her, without hurting his chances of gaining custody. Judges surveyed for Influences on Judges' Decisions in Child Custody Disputes in the Commonwealth of Virginia, a 2001 Virginia Supreme Court study, also reveal that children over five go to fathers more than they go to mothers when cases go to court. The study explains that judges in Virginia believe #1) mothers have “more problems” than fathers and #2) mothers are “less competent than fathers. Pages 4, 6, 7, 20, 21, 23, 24, 29, 30, 38, 39, 40, 41, 53, 55, and 57, however, are especially relevant to the current trend of giving children to fathers who are abusive, violent, and dangerously controlling men. Those pages are excerpted and contained in my compendium "The High Price of Conscience-free Justice." Or you may look for the study on the Virginia General Assembly website.

And then there was this:

Breaking the Silence: Children’s Stories — a powerful new PBS documentary that chronicles the impact of domestic violence on children and the recurring failings of family courts across the country to protect them from their abusers. In stark and often poignant interviews, children and battered mothers tell their stories of abuse at home and continued trauma within the courts. Co-produced by Tatge-Lasseur Productions and Connecticut Public Television (CPTV), this one-hour special also features interviews with domestic violence experts, attorneys and judges who reveal the disturbing frequency in which abusers are winning custody of their children and why these miscarriages of justice continue to occur.

This program is made possible by funding from the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation. One of the most effective ways an abusive father can inflict pain and declare his domination is to take custody of his children away from their mother. As Joan Meier, an attorney and professor of clinical law, explains, “To win custody of the kids over and against the mother’s will is the ultimate victory...short of killing the kids.” While there may be a perception in society that the family court system has a maternal preference, statistics show that, in the past twenty years, fathers are more often being awarded custody. Furthermore, in family court cases where mothers allege battery, fathers are given custody two-thirds of the time.

And if that was not enough, there was this:

“U.S. courts remain incredibly reluctant to punish men for crimes against their families," Silverman observes. "In this country, family violence is still seen as a private matter.”

“Men could beat, maim, and murder their wives with impunity until this century,” he continues. “Until the 1990s, it was legal in some states for a man to rape his wife. Like slavery and racism in this country, violence against women and children is the legacy of longstanding legal and social structures.”

* * *

When I attended the parenting class that I was required to by Virginia law after getting a divorce when children are involved (I don’t think mr ex ever attended a session)  there was a mother there who had been a stay-at-home mother, who home-schooled her five kids, who lost custody of her children to her physically abusive ex-husband, who was given the okay by the judge to take the minor children out of state to live. How respectable, daddy dearest was a pilot. The judge then told this woman, who had not worked outside of the home for years, that he better see a record of her going often to visit her children who were going to be half-way across the country with their father, even though she has no money. She, of course, was not given spousal support. This woman also relayed that she was ostracized by her church for getting a divorce.

There really isn’t anything to add, except the horror, the horror. Any wonder that so often we get duped by these guys, they dupe the system, too.

There's this pseudo theory that only the courts have taken a hold of called Parental Alienation Syndrome, which states that the abused parent will turn the child against the abusing parent. In order to prevent that from happening, the courts have decided to  simply give the kids to the abusing parent, who, of course, in no way will try to turn his kids against the other parent. How do you say "stupid" in legalese? I know, Parental Alienation Syndrome.

Watch the video, it’s chilling, especially the judge who says that no new evidence was presented although the child had told her mother that her father had sexually abused her after the first court case.

Why, why does the world still go round when children are not listened to and protected, and mothers are not listened to and protected? Why, why does the world still go round when abusers are given license to abuse? Why, why does the world still go round when all that is good is debased by those who have more powerful pockets and mouths?



Shit. I mean FUCK.


OMG. That's so incredibly horrific. That makes me sick. I don't know what to say except keep fighting the good fight. At the very least, your children will know when they're older that you tried.
That just sucks. So bad.


Ugh. This is awful. I can't watch the vid at work, but ugh again.

We're not all bad, us guys. I've bent over backward to not only pay three years of spousal support to my ex (against my OWN ATTORNEY'S ADVICE), but also pay un-unordered child support at the highest possible rate (which I've heard as paying 'out of the kindness of my heart'). I view it as doing what is RIGHT for the children. For MY children. It's about the kids, right? Ugh again.

I went to parenting class. Like the whole family court system in my state (hint: the lawyers get rich), it was a joke.

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

phhhst, always the eloquent English teacher finding the right words.

April, thankfully I have not had to go to court for custody. We did manage to agree on that, but this travesty of justice is horrible to contemplate. I honestly don't know what the girls know, but since both of them seem to keep away from him, I figure that at some point they will get why I had to divorce him, and not just let him be the decider any more.

goodfather, good to know that you are both a good father and a good ex-husband. This post didn't malign all men, but a system that abuses women as much as men do, unfortunately. So the one place that women were thought to have an advantage, well, it seems that they don't. mr ex, the man I put through law school, well we signed an agreement which basically says that even on Mars I won't get spousal support. We haven't agreed on child support because he wants to pay far less than the state ordered amount. Concern for his kids? What, you mean something is more important than his ego?


It's always scary when common sense and reason are thrown out the window. From my perspective working with lawyers for many years, it often comes down to money. I don't believe that justice is equal in this country and I can't imagine an abuser getting custody of children. Unbelievable.

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

JC, what kills me is that no one told me that the system is so dysfunctional. ex keeps harping on the fact that my parents paid for my lawyer, yea sure, he would have liked if I didn't have the finances to hire a lawyer that would stand up to him and so he would have cast me out. slime--I put him through law school.

Stepping Thru

I was one of the fortunate ones. My sisters and I were placed in my fathers custody and that was a GOOD thing. Our mother was an alcoholic and not fit to raise us. I was 12 and the two younger ones were 10 & 6. We were blessed to be placed in his care but I do agree that there is a terrible faction out there that thinks men have a right to abuse their wives. NO MAN has a right to abuse anyone, male or female especially a spouse or child. I lived through this with one husband and my sweet husband of 31 years knows better.


I am sick to my stomach from watching that video. I hope I can sleep tonight. I am having the same reaction as Germans did during the Holocaust....total disbelief that this could possibly be happening in our country.

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

ST, I'm glad that you had the right parenting solution. A sweet husband of 31 years, that does sound sweet. I just hope that I don't put too many roadblocks in my way, or take them down too quickly. It's hard to trust yourself after something like this.

Gwen, I like your analogy of not believing that this could happen in this day and age. I guess technology advances, not people.


Oh G-d, I'm sick from this. When my little girl acts unusual or seems out of sorts, I ask her if anything has happened, with her dad or someone else. How heartbreaking -- a daughter begging her mother to save her and the mom can't... Heaven help us all.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)