Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

One-size-fits-all approach to child custody can endanger moms and kids

27.07.2010
Do child custody evaluators' beliefs about domestic violence sometimes put divorced women and children in danger? A new University of Illinois study reveals that evaluator's beliefs generally fall into two categories, and one group is far more likely to prioritize safety for women and children when making custody decisions.

"Some evaluators see conflict as a natural part of relationships. When domestic violence occurs, they reason that it takes two to tango. When a couple's relationship is over, these evaluators see no reason the mom and dad can't co-parent safely, especially if they've both attended court-ordered anger management classes," said Jennifer Hardesty, a U of I associate professor of human and community development.

"The other group believes that anger management classes work for some couples, but they also know that violence can be used to control and terrorize women, and that children may be used as pawns in the relationship or as weapons against the mother. In such cases, these evaluators carefully craft custody arrangements that will keep the mother and children safe," said doctoral student Megan Haselschwerdt who worked with Hardesty on the study.

The researchers would like to see standardized and mandated training that would teach custody evaluators how to discriminate between types of violence because different kinds of violence require different interventions.

"Unfortunately, many courts are applying a one-size-fits-all model to custody cases. It's important to err on the side of safety. Safety precautions can be relaxed if it turns out that there's not as much of a risk as was thought. That's better than just assuming that there's no risk," Haselschwerdt said.

Approximately 20 percent of divorcing couples in the United States require judicial intervention to reach a custody agreement, and allegations of domestic violence are raised and substantiated in about 75 percent of these cases, she said.

"This means that custody evaluators—many of whom have little formal training in the dynamics of domestic violence—are in a position either to ensure safe custody agreements or to minimize or deny the seriousness of domestic violence and its relevance to child custody," she noted.

In the study, 23 custody evaluators participated in in-depth interviews, answering open-ended questions about their beliefs and how they made decisions.

Members of the "it takes two to tango" school said that most of their cases involved situational violence or arguments that turned physical because couples were unable to manage their conflicts properly—for example, a heated conflict about finances that ended with a shove.

These custody evaluators acknowledged that extreme cases of battering exist but said they almost never saw them.

But Hardesty disagrees. "These evaluators described situations that clearly went beyond situational violence, but they were convinced that was all they were seeing."

"In fact, speaking up for her safety can backfire on a woman if an evaluator decides she is trying to alienate the father from his children by making exaggerated claims. The evaluator may then compensate by prioritizing the father's custody rights," she said.

The more prevalent type of domestic violence is situational violence, which probably occurs in approximately 60 percent of the evaluators' cases.

In at least another 30 percent of cases, described by scholars as intimate terrorism, one partner attempts to control the other through threats of violence and a willingness to follow up on them.

"Usually there are multiple forms of control—not allowing the partner to make any financial decisions, threatening to take the children away if the abuser's demands aren't met, emotional abuse, name calling, degrading or humiliating the other person—anything that would terrorize someone or make them feel less human," Haselschwerdt said.

"Attempts to control could involve keeping a log of how far a partner has driven or checking their cell phone and where they're going on the Internet. These sorts of monitoring behaviors become dangerous when they're followed up with threats of violence," she said.

California is the only state that mandates any domestic violence–specific training for custody evaluators, who are called on by the courts as they are needed from their primary occupations as attorneys, psychologists, and social workers.

"There are many models and templates for suggested ways to do these evaluations. They tell evaluators what kind of information they need, how many people they should talk to, and how much time they should devote to an evaluation, but there are no legal requirements for how they should actually be done," she said.

The study will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Interpersonal Violence and is available pre-publication online at http://jiv.sagepub.com/content/early/2010/05/20/0886260510370599.full.pdf. Jason D. Hans of the University of Kentucky, Lexington, is a co-author.

Phyllis Picklesimer | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.illinois.edu

Further reports about: One-size-fits-all custody decisions domestic violence

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Antarctic landscape insights keep ice loss forecasts on the radar

20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

Filling the gap: High-latitude volcanic eruptions also have global impact

20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

Water world

20.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>