In this article, Prof. Meier repeatedly states that most batterers win partial or complete custody, as do sexual abusers of children, in her view. She states that most men who contest custody are batterers. She also asserts that “…it is becoming almost normal to see a claim of ‘alienation’ wherever abuse is alleged in a custody cases.” (p. 711)
Unfortunately, no original data are presented to support her assertions.
On page 662, Prof. Meier states that trial courts “appear to be granting custody to alleged batterers more often than not.” She cites the following sources for this assertion:
Kristen Lombardi. This refers to a fevered four-part article that appeared in an alternative newspaper, the Boston Phoenix, in 2003. This article made many of the same assertions as “Breaking the Silence,” drawing from the same pool of advocates. A jury found the newspaper guilty of libel for this article, and awarded nearly $1 million to a father accused of abuse in the article. In any case, an alternative newspaper is not a proper citation for a scholarly article.
Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts’ Gender Bias Study of 1989, as quoted by Lombardi. Again, Lombardi is not a reputable source. Review of the original document reveals data on pages 87 and 88 gleaned from 465 court records in three Massachusetts counties. The data are limited to the custody orders that accompanied the granting of restraining orders, not custody litigation. The researchers found that “custody was granted [to mothers] in only 68% of the probate court cases in which the petitioner requested custody of minor children and in 89% of district court cases.” About 80% of all restraining orders in Massachusetts are granted in the district courts. Weighting the above results accordingly, we find that in about 82% of restraining orders, custody is given to the mother. Thus, fathers receive some form of custody in only 18% of such cases, far less than stated by Prof. Meier.
American Judges Association. This publication is reviewed below. It does not provide data relative to the assertion, and was not even written or published by the American Judges Association.
Bancroft and Silverman. Two of their publications are reviewed in this document (one of them is identified below as “Cuthbert, C. et al.”) and neither provides data to support the assertion.
Linda Neilson, “Partner Abuse, Children and Statutory Change: Cautionary Comments on Women’s Access to Justice.” Neilson reported that in a study of 1,147 randomly selected cases in a Canadian jurisdiction, abusers won joint, split or full custody in 16% of the cases. This citation, if accurate, directly contradicts Meier’s assertion that batterers win “more often than not.”
Meier here refers to “my own…admittedly unscientific survey of many of the United States cases…” First, she here admits that the survey is unscientific.