Child Custody in Domestic Violence Cases

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As domestic violence allegations have surfaced more frequently in custody-litigating families, child custody evaluation has become increasingly challenging, and competing paradigms and research claims have contributed to gender bias in the process. The volume of unrepresented litigants has also strained the system. For legal and social service advocates serving domestic violence victims, mitigating gender bias in the system is essential.

Resources on Child Custody and Domestic Violence

Immigrants in the Child Welfare System, 2018

By ABA Center on Children and the Law, this resource provides guidance on how to navigate seven different scenarios in which children and their families may benefit from support services but face intersecting immigration and child welfare legal needs.

Other Resources

Association of Family and Conciliation Courts: Guidelines for Examining Intimate Partner Violence: A Supplement to the AFCC Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluation (2016): guidelines for child custody evaluators on identifying intimate partner violence and the effects on children, parenting and co-parenting when making custody determinations.

Battered Women’s Justice Project: The National Child Custody Project aims to increase safety for battered parents and their children while promoting fairness in all custody-related processes through training, technical assistance, and resources

Family Violence Appellate Project: dedicated to helping domestic violence survivors in California and their children by appealing trial court decisions on their behalf, for free

Legal Momentum: Legal Resource Kit for Domestic Violence and Child Custody (2005)

National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges: Webpage on Family Violence and Domestic Relations offers training, technical assistance, publications, and other resources on custody in domestic violence cases, including the Safe Havens Supervised Visitation and Safe Exchange Grant Program, which increases opportunities for supervised visitation and safe exchange by and between custodial and non-custodial parents, in cases involving domestic violence and other abuses

‘A gendered trap:’ When mothers allege child abuse by fathers, the mothers often lose custody, study shows (The  Washington Post)