"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!
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy