Family Courts Come Under Volunteers' Watch
Tuesday, July 8, 2008 1:56 PM

Family courts, which handle many types of cases including divorces and custody decisions, are often overwhelmed by case volume. Judges have an extremely short amount of time to make a decision that will affect a family's future. This can mean that injustices against women, who constitute a majority of the plaintiffs in family court, frequently go unnoticed. For example, abusers commonly try to portray their victims as unstable by pointing out the victim's desperation for custody.

In 2004, Renee Beeker, a family court activist from Michigan, founded the National Family Court Watch Project with the goal of calling attention to these existing injustices. Volunteers from the group observe hearings  in California, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, and soon in New Jersey, by filling out a six-page questionnaire. Through their observations so far, the group has confirmed that women face many specific obstacles in trying to obtain custody. With the large-scale data she intends to collect, Beeker hopes to inspire people to push for change in the court, as well as to help judges see how they can improve in their work. 

For the full article, click here.

Compiled from: Bowen, Alison, "Family Courts Come Under Voluteers' Watch," Women's eNews, 4 July 2008.