Massachusetts law governing child custody recognizes the damaging effect that witnessing domestic violence can have on a child. Accordingly, the law requires courts to give special attention to the effects of domestic violence on a child when determining custody. An unintended consequence of this scrutiny is that parents who have been the victims of domestic violence can lose custody, or even their parental rights, for failing to protect children from witnessing their abuse. This result can be prevented by requiring courts to apply the same level of attention to the effects of domestic violence when removing a child from an abused parent as they do when placing a child with an abusive parent.
Jeanne M. Kaiser & Caroline M. Foley, Family Law—The Revictimization of Survivors of Domestic Violence and Their Children: The Heartbreaking Unintended Consequence of Separating Children from Their Abused Parent, 43 W. NEW ENG. L. REV. 167 (2021).