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Type of marital abuse may impact co-parenting after divorce

In Texas, many couples have marital relationships that have been marked by domestic violence. When these couples have children and later divorce, the type of relationships that they had during their marriages may impact their ability to co-parent.

Researchers from the University of Illinois were interested in determining whether or not the patterns of domestic violence that were experienced by women during their marriages would affect the ability of the estranged couple to engage in co-parenting relationships following their divorces. The researchers studied 135 cases involving parents who had previously had domestic violence in their relationships in order to determine whether or not there was a difference in their ability to form co-parenting relationships during the first year after their divorces.

The couples in the study were divided into two groups - those who had experienced situational violence and those whose marriages had been marked by coercion and control by the abusers. The situationally violent couples were those who normally did not have patterns of abuse but who erupted during arguments, leading to one striking the other. The couples who had experienced coercion and control included abusers who used control to dominate their partners. The researchers found that the situationally violent couples were much likelier to be able to establish co-parenting relationships following their divorces than the ones whose marriages had been marked by control and coercion.

Child custody decisions are issued according to what is in the best interests of the children. One of the factors that courts take into consideration is whether or not the relationships of the parents included acts of domestic violence. Victims may want to talk to their family law attorneys about the abuse that they experienced. The attorneys may be able to argue on behalf of their clients for supervised visits and exchanges in order to help to ensure their safety.

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