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).)

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