Throughout this knowledge module, reference to certain provisions or sections of a piece of legislation, part of a legal judgment, or aspect of a practice does not imply that the legislation, judgment, or practice is considered in its entirety to be a good example or a promising practice.

Some of the laws cited herein may contain provisions which authorize the death penalty. In light of the United Nations General Assembly resolutions 62/14963/16865/206, and 67/176 calling for a moratorium on and ultimate abolition of capital punishment, the death penalty should not be included in sentencing provisions for crimes of violence against women and girls.

Other Provisions Related to Domestic Violence LawsResources for Developing Legislation on Domestic Violence
Sexual Harassment in Sport Tools for Drafting Sexual Harassment Laws and Policies
Immigration Provisions Resources for developing legislation on sex trafficking of women and girls
Child Protection Provisions Resources on Forced and Child Marriage
Other provisions related to dowry-related and domestic violence laws
Related Tools

Family law and divorce

Last edited: January 05, 2011

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  • 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).)