Family Law and Divorce

last updated March 2015

In partnership with UN Women, The Advocates for Human Rights created the following sections for UN Women’s Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women and Girls. This section, along with sections addressing other forms of violence against women and girls, may be found under Legislation at


Family law and divorce

Legislation should provide for divorce and for adequate alimony for spouses and children. (See:  the Maputo Protocol, Article 7)

Legislation should provide for the complainants/survivor’s right to stay in the home after the divorce.

Legislation should provide for social insurance and pension rights for complainant/survivors.

Legislation should provide for expedited distribution of property in divorce cases involving domestic violence.

Legislation should mandate careful screening of all custody and visitation cases to determine if there is a history of domestic violence.

Drafters should consider the dynamics of domestic violence when drafting laws and regulations on custody and visitation. 

Existing laws on child custody and other family law provisions should be amended as necessary to focus on safety of the complainants/survivor and the best interests of the child in domestic violence cases.

Child abuse and neglect proceedings should target the perpetrators of violence and recognize that the protection of children is often best achieved by protecting their mothers. See: CASE STUDY:  Guidelines for Domestic Violence Cases with Child Witnesses.

(See: UN Handbook, 3.13.)


The Children’s Law Act (1990) of Newfoundland, Canada states:

(3)    In assessing a person's ability to act as a parent, the court shall consider whether the person has ever acted in a violent manner towards (a)his or her spouse or child; (b)his or her child's parent; or (c)another member of the household…Article 31 


 (See: Child Custody and Visitation Decisions When the Father Has Perpetrated Violence Against the Mother (2005).)