Issue No. 7 - Trauma-Informed Approaches to Family Violence in Family Law

September 2021

The family court system presents many challenges for survivors of family violence. Many of the parties are self-represented, in need of protection, and dealing with multiple legal matters at once, such as child custody or protection orders, criminal court proceedings, landlord and tenant tribunals or immigration hearings. The school system adds a further layer that can complicate the family court experience for survivors, along with the many interventions of social services agencies that work to address mental health, substance abuse, and trauma-related issues. These overlapping processes create delays and confusion, further exhausting the emotional and financial resources of families. Moreover, research has shown that the disconnect between these legal systems can be a dangerous one for family violence survivors, distancing them from the supports and protections they need and putting them at greater risk of future violence (Martinson & Jackson, 2016). 

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