Luke’s Place Legal Director, Pamela Cross, presented at “Diverse Voices”, the 17th Annual Family Violence Conference. This year’s national event was held in Edmonton.
Pamela was the keynote speaker on November 17, presenting on the trend of courts to order shared parenting in cases involving woman abuse.
Joint custody, shared time, collaborative decision making and unsupervised access put women and their children into volatile and high risk situations allowing the abusive partner to continue to exercise his power and control over the family.
Yet pending and actual separation are the second highest risk factor for domestic violence deaths in many jurisdictions. According to Ontario’s Domestic Death Review Committee 2015 report, in 72% of domestic violence murders the couple was in the process of separating.
The culture of family court denies the reality of violence. Friendly litigation and friendly parenting are expected. A “good” parent will move on, settle early and compromise, under the assumption that these behaviours put the children first. Surprisingly, the mother’s safety is not linked to the best interests of the child.
Read more about this topic in Pamela’s published paper, “When Shared Parenting and the Safety of Women and Children Collide”.
Pamela also delivered a session on “Supporting Survivors of Family Violence who are Involved with the Family Law System” at the conference.