New CFRP Briefs - Relationship Violence and Texas Families


To coincide with the National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, CFRP has released two policy briefs on the issue. The briefs highlighted below present surprising findings based on original research about relationship violence and unmarried Texas parents.


CFRP Policy Brief | B.013.0914
Families at Risk: Understanding the Characteristics of Relationship Violence among Unmarried Texas Parents

Children who grow up witnessing or experiencing violence in the home are at serious risk for a range of negative outcomes.  Moreover, research shows children of unmarried parents - already beset by a number of economic and developmental disadvantages - are more likely to grow up in violent households than children in other family structures. This brief examines the dynamics of relationship violence among unmarried parents with newborns, paying special attention to the common characteristics and trajectories that typify violent relationships in the period surrounding a nonmarital birth.

We find that a staggering 1 in 5 unmarried mothers report experiencing relationship violence from the father of their child at least once since becoming pregnant. The majority of these mothers traverse a prenatal period marked by breakups and minimal assistance from the father, and most will end their relationship with the father by the time the child is three months old. A smaller contingent of mothers remains with the violent father over this same period; often, these sustained relationships have longer and more physically violent histories than those that dissolve. Prenatal violence screenings and interventions designed to connect at-risk families with legal and community-based resources may help improve the safety of mothers and children in these circumstances. READ FULL BRIEF


CFRP Policy Brief | B.011.1014
Relationship Violence and Paternity Establishment: Mapping the Policy Implications

Unmarried parents are encouraged to establish paternity for their children by signing a form in the hospital at the time of birth; however, for families experiencing relationship violence, the preferred method of paternity establishment is through the court system, where legal parameters can be placed on a father’s access to mother and child. Nonetheless, few cases of violence are rerouted to the court system by the professionals who administer paternity establishment at the hospital.

Drawing on original data compiled from two statewide studies, this brief highlights the intersection of relationship violence and paternity establishment from two perspectives - those of unmarried mothers and hospital staff. The data reveal that relationship violence is particularly high among fathers who don’t attend the birth; meanwhile, nearly 90% of violent fathers who do attend the birth establish paternity at that time, rather than through the judicial system. CFRP’s findings highlight the difficulties birth registrars face in detecting and intervening in cases of relationship violence, especially given the highly sensitive and complex nature of the problem. The findings also point to several policy options for improving the safety and welfare of unmarried mothers and their children, including the need to provide birth registrars with explicit training and directives for how to recognize and respond to potential cases of relationship violence. In addition, data presented in this brief offer insight into how policy might best intervene to ensure that paternity is established both safely and effectively for Texas parents. READ FULL BRIEF


Oct. 1, 2014