HuffPost’s Test Kitchen ran an incredibly powerful article a few years ago, This Is Not a Love Story, chronicling the overwhelming intimate partner violence and homicide in the US, then followed that up with a CDC summary titled Who Is Killing American Women, Their Husbands and Boyfriends, CDC Confirms. Sadly, this is a seemingly never-ending reality that continues to play out in our news cycle. Just this year, in our own Phoenix community, Dwight Lamon Jones killed six people in a rage of violence fueled by his anger about his divorce and child custody arrangement. Just this month, John Formisano, in the midst of his divorce, shot and killed his wife and critically injured her friend.
These events are constant reminders that the amount of information people have about potential perpetrators of intimate partner violence varies, from John Formisano’s colleagues who described their shock about his actions as, “A tremendous understatement.” to Dr. Connie Jones’ assessment of her own ex-husband that, “I knew one day he would try to kill me”. Once family, friends, co-workers, and victims have knowledge of concerning behaviors and beliefs, we now have risk assessment tools that can be used as critical life saving tools. Some excellent ones can be found at womenslaw.org, the CDC, and the NCDSV.
In my high-conflict family law speciality, in this day and age, I am always mindful of potential lethality. Divorce and child custody disputes rattle even the most steady and healthy adults, but time and time again we see that they can prove deadly for adults in high-conflict situations. Here’s to all of us helping protect our loved-ones through proactive awareness and intervention.
Jason Castle is a family lawyer who specializes in high-conflict cases. He's also a former prosecutor & social worker. Hear his latest divorce thoughts!