Massachusetts Bill Tries to Stop the Cycle of Domestic Abuse

The Massachusetts State Senate passed a bill into law on July 16 that would give child custody to a parent who produced a “preponderance of evidence” that his or her spouse was a batterer. The burden of proof would then shift to the accused batterer holding them responsible for disproving the evidence to gain custody. Evidence has shown that children who grow up in a household with domestic violence usually end up becoming abusers themselves and part of the motivation behind this bill is to break that cycle.

Divorced fathers’ groups oppose the bill claiming that it will deny custody to fathers who are the victims of false allegations, but the court system expressed its feeling that although there is a potential for error it is “outweighed” by the state’s interest in protecting its children’s welfare. The Governor has promised to sign the bill.


AP - July 20, 1998