In Family Court a Victim Is on Her Own Against the Abuser.
In Criminal Court it’s the State That Takes On the Abuser.
This is why criminal
cases are named in the form of ‘The People (meaning the
state or society) versus John Doe’, whereas family court
cases are named in the form of ‘Jane Doe versus John Doe’.
The criminal court
system pits the immense powers of the state against the accused.
In marked contrast, family court is merely a stage set by the
state where two private individuals can come to battle out their
personal differences, using their own devices, with the state
acting more as a weak referee, and wielding very little power.
Family court and criminal
court are profoundly different in premise, structure, power, and
purpose. The moment a victim steps into family court, whether
to seek a restraining order, custody and visitation rulings, a
divorce, or any other family court order regarding her abuser,
she’s literally opening the door for her abuser to launch unchecked
counterattacks against her, in an arena that was never designed
to deal with criminal dynamics, with the very real possibility
that the abuser may end up turning the family court against her.
In family court, an unprepared victim of family violence can be
as vulnerable to the perpetrator’s abuse as she is in the home.
Most people mistakenly
think that the difference between family court and criminal court
consists mainly in the different issues these courts deal with.
It’s a mistake that can seriously endanger victims of family violence
who too often trust that the family court system is built to protect
her in much the same way as the criminal system. Nothing could
be further from reality.
In family court, the
family issue at hand – whether custody, divorce, visitation, or
restraining orders, etc. – is deemed a private matter of such
minor consequence to the community that the two individuals in
a family court case are on their own; each responsible for investigating,
preparing, conducting, and defending their own cases. To be sure,
they are each free to hire their own private attorney to help
them if they wish – or if they can. But this factor also generally
serves to further disadvantage a victim of family violence and
to further empower a violent abuser, since it’s usually the abuser
who controls the family funds and can hire a private attorney,
and the victim who cannot.
In Family Court an Abuser can Launch Free Ranging Counterattacks
against the Victim.
In Criminal Court, Counterattacks by the Abuser Are Forbidden
or Tightly Restricted.