Custody Stalking: A Mechanism of Coercively Controlling Mothers Following Separation

Feminist Legal Studies 25 (2):185-201 (2017)
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Abstract

This paper adds to our understandings of women’s post-separation experiences of coercive control through the introduction of a new concept—custody stalking. It is defined as a malevolent course of conduct involving fathers’ use of custody and/or child protection proceedings to overturn historic patterns of care for children. The experience of custody stalking is explored through three composite narratives derived from twelve mothers who participated in an exploratory, qualitative study on the involuntary loss of maternal care time following separation. The losses suffered caused these mothers tremendous grief, damaged their psychological wellbeing and had a detrimental effect on their mothering relationships. Yet custody stalking, as a form of malevolent attack, is not well recognised and mothers’ resultant losses are largely culturally invisible. This is in marked contrast to paternal filicides, another form of post-separation avenging attack committed by some fathers that also leads to maternal loss experiences, albeit more absolute.

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