Family Court After Abuse – Part 1

Welcome to Right-On with HFG Happy Families Support Network Inc. (HFG)

HFG is a not-for-profit support group that provides ongoing support to women and children who have experienced abuse

HFG is a free support group for women and children who have experienced abuse, run by women who have experienced abuse

The topic for today is – Family Court After Abuse – Part 1

So now you have a family lawyer & you’ve told & retold the story of your abuse and marriage breakdown

You’ve written and reviewed all your documents for court, and they are ready… but you are not!

This will be the first time you’ve come face to face with your abuser since the separation and you are scared

One of the major fears of going to family court after abuse is having to face your abuser

You worry about being strong enough to stand against your abuser. Strong enough to speak up without giving in to fear

Will the judge hear what you have to say? Or will the judge be charmed by your abuser? Everyone else is

Your throat tightens, heart races, can’t breathe, shaking, you’re paralyzed with fear at seeing your abuser

You want to run away but the thought of your children keep you from running. Family court is for your children

You need to be strong for your children no matter what. You know this and so you keep driving toward family court

As you get close to the court house you keep repeating – I can be strong for my children, I can be strong for my children

You park the car, you’re meeting your lawyer inside the court house & the walk from your car to the court is the longest ever

You look around startled at every sound, thinking your abuser has seen you and is following you, you can hardly breathe

You’re walking very fast, almost running, have to get to the court house then you’ll be safe…

Finally you’re at the court house, going through security and you’re there, fighting back tears

You beat yourself up with your thoughts, you’re not inside the court room to see the judge yet and you are a mess

You are afraid the judge will believe everything the abuser says and not listen to you

You’re afraid the judge will only hear all the lies told to Social Services, the Police, and anyone who would listen

Your abuser has turned everything around, and it’s still all your fault, you are the abuser, you abuse the children and him

Everyone looks at you strange or so you think, everyone believes your abuser, why would they not, he’s so charming & convincing

You finally find your lawyer. You sit down and can barely speak. You are scared! Do you tell your family Lawyer how you feel?

You worry about what your lawyer will think about you being so afraid. Will they think you are weak?

You review your court document to remind yourself of what you are asking the family court judge to decide on

  1. You are asking the court for sole custody and sole decision making it easier to do things for your children
  2. With sole custody and sole decision making there is no need for the constant back and forth and arguing with your abuser
  3. You are asking the court for primary residence – you want your children to live with you
  4. You have outlined in your court documents how access will be handled-supervised, over nights or not, & how when
  5. You are asking the court to allow you to renew passports & other documents for your kids without permission from your abuser
  6. You have outlined a great parenting plan in your court documents that covers every holiday and special day
  7. With the best interest of your children in mind you have shown how holidays and special days will be shared/celebrated
  8. You have outlined in your parenting plan how access will be handled during the school year
  9. You have outlined in your parenting plan the pick-up and drop off location for access and holiday sharing
  10. You have outlined in your court document that Child support should be handled by FRO (Family Responsibility Office)
  11. The goal is to minimize your contact with your abuser as much as possible so you can start healing

Focus on the issues, don’t let anything distract you from the important issues in your court document

Your name is called. It’s your turn to see the judge. THERE IS YOUR ABUSER! You can’t move!

You wait a few seconds, deep breathing then you walk into the court room. YOUR FIRST TIME IN FAMILY COURT

You sit beside your lawyer, you try to breathe, but you are afraid. What’s going to happen? You wait…

Is family court always going to be about fear? Fear of your abuser and fear of the judges decisions

How can you make family court work for you and your children? What do you want to happen? What can you do?

It will be hard, your abuser will use underhanded strategies, tell lies and demean you to distract you from the real issues

You need to stay focused and with the help of your family lawyer present your case to the judge

Remember, focus on the important issues and let your family lawyer present your case; that is their job

Also, be prepared to negotiate the terms of the court order you want from the family court judge

Start your negotiations above what you are willing to settle for. This way you have room to negotiate

Your abuser will usually not agree or compromise easily to your suggestions and requests for clauses in the court order

Remember, all your decisions should be about what is best for your children

Your kids are most important in the family court process & the decisions you fight for will affect them for a very long time

We would love to hear your questions and comments about today’s post/tweet on going to family court after abuse

Please email comments and questions to and join the conversation

Thanks for joining Right-On with HFG

We look forward to seeing you next Wednesday October 22 for our weekly Right-On conversation

The topic for next week is – Family Court After Abuse Part 2

Please email your questions and comments to

If you would like more information on the HFG support group please email

Have a great day! HFG Hugs!!

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