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Justice Denied: How Family Courts in NYC Endanger Battered Women and Children

NCJ Number
223566
Date Published
2008
Annotation
This report presents findings and recommendations from a survey, developed by the Voices of Women Organizing Project (VOW) of battered women’s experiences in New York City Family Courts in 2006, documenting patterns and problems within the New York City Family Court system as it relates to domestic violence.
Abstract
Findings include: (1) a New York City Family Court system that does not follow the law or its own policies and procedures, where women reported court procedures and rulings that were often in violation of due process; (2) a system where decisions are made that put children in danger; (3) a system that minimizes domestic violence and neither provides protection to victims, nor holds abusers accountable, where there was an overall feeling by women that they were not heard and that their experience of abuse was minimized, disregarded, or used against them; and (4) and a system rife with gender bias against women and preferential treatment towards the party who is wealthier or has a higher status. Recommendations presented to improve an ineffective system include: (1) enforce all laws and procedures and ensure that court proceedings are fair and just; (2) ensure that Family Court decisions protect children and reflect the best interests of the child; (3) take seriously all allegations of domestic violence and ensure the safety of victims, including while they are in the courthouse; and (4) ensure that court proceedings are fair and just. Since 2003, the Voices of Women Organizing Project (VOW) has been addressing the alarming reports by survivors about Family Court decisions that endanger them and their children and that fail to hold their abusers accountable. The survey interviews, along with focus groups and court safety assessments reveal a Family Court system that is badly in need of oversight and repair. This report is the culmination of several years of work, which included surveying 75 survivors on their experiences in New York City Family Court. The interviews were conducted between May and December 2006, and of those who had active cases in the New York City Family Court in 2005-2006.