Keeping The Kids Together Despite Domestic Violence

April 10, 2011 Kellie Jo Holly

It's almost a year to the day the judge awarded primary physical custody to my abusive ex-husband. My attorney was as surprised as I was. My attorney said that the best she could figure (without being allowed to see the interview documents, if there were any), was that my older son elected to be with his father because of his anger toward me, and the judge decided for keeping the kids together.

Keeping The Kids Together While Escaping Domestic Abuse

The family court's judgment came after I'd learned some frightful information about Child Protective Services (CPS).

A few months earlier, I'd left the house in the middle of the night and took the boys with me. We spent the night at a friend's house, then returned home around 9 or 10 AM. My sons were exhausted - they hadn't slept the night before. I didn't send them to school.

However, when I met with the counselor at the department of social services, she said she would not report that I didn't send them to school. Although we fled from domestic violence, her report would prompt CPS to investigate me for neglect.

Blind Justice


She said that if I felt comfortable returning to the home, then I should have sent the boys to school. If I no longer felt they were endangered, I should have emphasized the importance of returning to a normal schedule for their mental health. (As if their father's abuses didn't outweigh my choice to keep them home that day.)

So when I left the next time, I wasn't sure if I would return home or not. I'd always gone back before. I asked Marc if he wanted to go with me or stay and Marc said, "Eddie slept through it all. I'll stay here to put him on the bus in the morning." Thinking about what the counselor told me, I thought that would be best just in case I went home.

But during the night, I decided that I could not return to my marriage. In the morning, I went to the courthouse. The judge granted an ex parte order and issued a warrant for Will's arrest. I waited for the sheriff to remove him from the house.

Marc and Eddie heaved gasps of tearful air as they watched the sheriff's car drive away. Marc wouldn't look at me. Eddie clung to me. Both boys blamed me to some extent. The relationship between Marc and me deteriorated further.

A few Friday nights later, while at the movie theater, Marc left our seats with the popcorn bag and didn't come back. He ran away. On Sunday, Will located and convinced Marc to stay in the RV where Will lived.

Our court date for custody was a week or two later. Marc said whatever he said to the judge, and the rest is history.

Family Court: Decision to Keep The Kids Together

I'm sure Marc and Eddie's ages (16 and 13) at the time of this decision were a factor in the judge's decision. Perhaps the judge read the criminal report and saw I'd left the boys with their father the night I'd left. Perhaps Marc told the judge what he reportedly told his father: "If I have to live at mom's I'll run away again." Perhaps a lot of things went through the judge's mind. I'll never know; I am forced to live with the decisions the family court made without knowing why. There are no explanations.

The Supreme Court issues explanations for its decisions. We should get the same respect from family court judges. I would really like to know his reasons for giving primary physical custody to our abuser.

See Also:

You can find Kellie Jo Holly on her website, Amazon Authors, Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

*Both women and men could be abusers or victims, so do not take my pronoun choices as an implication that one gender abuses and the other is victimized.

APA Reference
Jo, K. (2011, April 10). Keeping The Kids Together Despite Domestic Violence, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 21 from

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

Rita O'Neill
March, 8 2013 at 1:38 am

Dear Kellie,
Your experience is like mine right down to son living with Dad.
It took 2/5 years for my now 18year old to talk to me I plan on going back to Judge and getting sole custody.I met with my son after not seeing him for 2years.He is just like me no more self His father needs to control he does not exist in my mind as a human being,he is more like a creature with no soul spirit or anything good that guides him.Thank You so much what a gift you are to women keep me posted on your children.I hope for the best to regain myself is a miracle.Rita

December, 5 2012 at 1:49 pm

I am in tears. I am not alone, and I am not crazy. This has happened to others. Thank you... This is the most sane I have felt in years.

April, 11 2011 at 5:24 am

Thank you again Kellie, for speaking right at me! I spent a night away last week to escape the violence, but I didn't take the kids. (they were with their grandma). I worry so much that trying to stay out of the way of the abuse is going to cost me custody, but I cannot take it anymore.

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