It might surprise some Missouri residents that research has found, when it comes to child custody cases, even in situations where abuse is alleged, fathers are given preference over mothers. This goes against the popular belief that mothers are given preference in child custody battles.
The research, completed by a George Washington University Law School professor, shows this to be particularly true when parental alienation is claimed by the father and abuse by the mother. According to the findings, only 1 in 51 cases like this are substantiated in court. Parental alienation is the claim that one parent has worked to make their child become distant or hate their other parent.
Maryland is the first state that is working to address this type of child custody situation by trying to pass legislation that uses the available scientific evidence to deal with situations created by parental alienation claims. While the research by Richard Gardner, the proponent of the parental alienation theory, was never accepted by the American Medical Association or the American Psychiatric Association, the court system embraced it. In some cases, the result was that children were removed from the home of the mother and placed full-time in the home of the father, even when the abuse allegations were proven.
The Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence says that around 58,000 children are placed with abusive parents in an unsupervised situation each year. The legal fight between parents in those cases can also become very costly, and in some situations, when the money runs out, the parent claiming abuse is left without means to continue appealing when their children are placed with the abusive parent.
In any situation involving children, parents might choose to contact a lawyer with family law experience. The lawyer can provide both legal support, by explaining the legislation and guiding their client, and legal representation during court appearances.