No Fault of Their Own

February 25, 2010

Ruth Bettelheim’s recent New York Times Op-Ed article No Fault of Their Own does a good job of pointing out that divorce custody laws need to be changed to protect kids from family conflict. I totally agree, as would my daughters. However, the abused spouse (ex) also needs legal protection as such exes often find themselves in a terrorizing war zone … also through “No Fault of Their Own.”

Fortunately, this issue is starting to receive attention and that is very good. The bad news is, I’ve yet to learn of effective, dedicated efforts to change the legal system to take into account the needs of spouses and exes pummeled by abusers with the means to add legal abuse to their weapons arsenal. In my opinion these tactics are criminal, and such “victimized” spouses should be entitled to the same legal protections (mainly the right to an attorney) other crime victims receive.

Since I’m a mom, I’ll couch this in mom terms with the caveat it can also happen to dads. It’s cliché to say single moms struggle. No one even blinks an eye at that concept. Setting up two households is costly yet statistics show dad’s lifestyle increases significantly while the caretaking mom’s plummets. That means the kids, at least during their custodial time with mom, also have a lifestyle that plummets … emotionally and financially.

I don’t mean to sound like “Debbie Downer” as my daughters would say, but abuse does not end with divorce. It’s a little discussed, sad reality that single moms exiting abusive marriages have the added financial and emotional burden of post divorce abuse. The adversarial court system is an “entitled” abuser’s kamikaze dream. And it’s unstoppable.

This too gravely affects children as money that should go towards tutoring, sports, dental care, and even shoes is stolen from the family thanks to legal battles instigated by the vengeful abusive spouse/ex. And, when the “targeted victim” runs out of money for legal representation s/he becomes a sitting duck as the “entitled” spouse/ex revels in victory over having destroyed the enemy… even if it means destroying his kids in the process.

This needs to change. Please share your story with me (Comments are moderated and I promise to keep it confidential if you wish) so together we can prove our case…

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