Wednesday, July 6, 2022
Call for Papers
Centering Family Violence in Family Law
Abstract Submission Deadline: July 22, 2022
from the Family Law Center, UVA School of Law and National Family Violence Law Center, GW Law School
We invite submissions to contribute to a roundtable about the place of domestic violence in family law and scholarship. Submissions should consist of a proposed abstract under 300 words. The roundtable will be held on January 20, 2023 at the University of Virginia School of Law.
Although evidence shows that family violence is endemic, family law continues to design doctrines and procedures around an image of families in which violence is exceptional. Significant new empirical research indicates that, despite extensive law reforms designed to require courts to address family violence, mothers in custody litigation who seek to protect their children from paternal abuse typically face resistance from judges, if not outright hostility. Moreover, most family lawyers are ill-equipped to effectively represent protective parents and at-risk children, especially in an unreceptive family court culture. Cf. Meier, Denial of Family Violence: An Empirical Analysis and Path Forward for Family Law, 110 Geo. L. J. 835 (2022).
How would family law practice, scholarship, and teaching change if each centered the reality of family violence instead of treating it as exceptional?
This roundtable will bring together a group of diverse participants to explore how the realities of family violence and judicial intransigence should affect core doctrines and practices in family law, such as allocating custody and establishing parenthood. Participants will also consider how concern for family violence should inform discussions of systemic reforms such as decriminalization, abolition of the child welfare system, and parenting after incarceration. The roundtable’s goal is to carve out new ways to think about how family law can respond to the failure of the law, scholarship, and the courts to appropriately deal with violence within American families.
We offer the following “provocations” for new thinking about how to place family violence at the center of family law:
- Shared Parenting: How might we talk about shared parenting and its appropriate place in child custody if we acknowledged the history of intimate partner violence and child maltreatment among many (possibly most) separating parents, both those that litigate and those that do not?
- Functional Parenting: As we seek to expand parenting rights and recognition to functional parents, how can we ensure that abusive partners are not empowered to extend their abuse through parenting litigation (a well-documented problem among biological parents)?
- Pedagogy: How should we best integrate the realities of family violence in our teaching, particularly in broad courses such as Family Law, Criminal Law, and Child, Family & State?
- Formerly Incarcerated Parents: As we work to reintegrate formerly incarcerated parents into the community and their families, how can we ensure that reintegration maximizes and protects healthy and caring parent-child relationships?
- The Child Welfare System: As we work to reform the child welfare system and its known racial and class injustices, how can we best integrate the realities of family violence into such reforms to ensure they do not exacerbate the victimization of children or safe parents?
- A Supportive State: As we develop state tools to affirmatively support familial stability and security, how should such policies change if family violence is pervasive rather than an aberrant imperfection?
We are delighted to report that the Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law has agreed to publish eight short (5,000-word) papers from this gathering. We will be requesting drafts (3,000-5,000 words) one week in advance of the conference so they can be circulated and read by all participants.
We plan to host the event in person, although the format may change depending on public health considerations. We will supply meals, and we have some funding available. If you need funding to attend, then please provide an estimate of your travel costs.
Thank you. Please submit abstracts to [email protected]. And please let us know if you have any questions!