A women’s group yesterday called on judges to consider the best interests of the children when ruling in custody cases, saying that changes in judicial mindsets are needed to benefit divorced families.
Chi Hui-jung (紀惠容), executive director of the Garden of Hope Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping abused females, said at a press conference that over the past 10 years, the foundation has assisted more than 38,000 abused women.
It found that serious problems can arise when women are fighting for custody of their children.
In court, judges prefer not to change the status quo in the family. If the father takes the child away from the mother before or after the parents separate, for example, the judge will usually grant custody to the father, for fear that the child will have difficulty adjusting to a new lifestyle, she said.
Should the mother ask for a retrial, the case is heard in the same court and very often the judges still award custody to the father, Chi said.
Last year, judges ruled 61 percent of child custody disputes in favor of the father, she said.
“The judges are supposed to make their decisions based on the best interests of the child, but what we are seeing is totally different,” Chi said.
One woman, who gave her name only as Amy, told reporters at the press conference about struggle. She was married with two daughters for five years in Taoyuan. Unable to bear her abusive husband, she filed for divorce, leaving behind her children and began a long custody battle.
The husband wanted custody of the younger daughter and took her away to his parents’ home in Pingtung.
Judges at both first and second trials granted the father custody, saying the child had become accustomed to life with him.
“Both my daughters have witnessed me getting beaten by my ex-husband. They are very afraid,” Amy said. “My older daughter always asks me when her sister can come home, but I am never able to give her a satisfactory answer.”
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