On Spousal Abuse, continued
I have very limited experience with “Legal Aid,” a system in which a lawyer is paid to represent someone who cannot afford to pay legal costs. However, in one case with which I am familiar, the lawyer was only interested in helping his client until the small number of allotted sessions has been used up, and then essentially abandoned his client – as I suppose might be expected. Lawyers tend to want to be paid.
In the best of all possible worlds, each side of any domestic conflict is interested in the best interests of the child(ren) but, in domestic violence situations, that is not always the case. In my opinion, if you leave your spouse, you are likely to need a good lawyer, preferably one who is interested in pursuing the best interests of the children rather than just the anger-inspired immediate wishes of either parent.
Similarly, court ordered mediators cannot be counted on to be well informed about spousal abuse. For example, it is not acceptable to require a victim to participate with his or her abuser in any conjoint mediation sessions. The risk to the victim is too great. The ex-partners have to be treated separately, and only when/if that is successful is it safe for them to be involved in conjoint sessions – and remember that the abuser (1) is often very skilled at impression management and (2) finds his or her behaviour very ego-syntonic, so is not eager to change his or her abusive ways.