Child Custody and Domestic Violence: A Call for Safety and Accountability

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SAGE, 2003 - Family & Relationships - 194 pages
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Although domestic violence has been recognized as a major social and criminal problem, only recently have service providers begun to acknowledge that the violence doesn't end with separation. In, Fact, separation may be the most dangerous period for abused women. Often the violence and abuse of power a gets played out thorough a battle for custody or liberal visitation to the children. Many batterers want custody t punish their partner. Other batterers utilize visitation rights for ongoing threats and harassment of their partner. Judges, lawyers, mental health and social services providers need to confront these issues in a direct manner.

The Jaffe and Lemon book brings together the most recent clinical and legal issues in the field from across North American and around the world. Changing legislation in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and other impact of domestic's violence on child witnesses before custody or visitation decisions are mode. A growing body of literature points to the short-term and long-term trauma of abuse to battered women and their children. This information is outlined as essential parts of custody assessments and decision highlight the changing awareness of this problem. Backlash issues such as the "parent alienation syndromes" are also discussed.

The authors conclude by outlining the essential differences between custody disputes with and without allegations and findings of domestic violence. Key community strategies such as legal and clinical training, specialized resources for the courts (including supervised visitation centers), and well-coordinated community planning are discussed in the final chapter.


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Why Domestic Violence Is Relevant
Assessing Safety and Responsibility in ChildCustody
Changing Legislation and Legal Practice to Recognize
The Varying Responses of the Court System
A Framework for Action by Courts and Communities
About the Authors

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Page 163 - Swimming Against the Tide: Keeping Violent Men out of Mediation', in J. Stubbs (ed.), Women, Male Violence and the Law.
Page 169 - Kane, RJ (2000). Police responses to restraining orders in domestic violence incidents: Identifying the custody-threshold thesis.

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About the author (2003)

Peter Jaffe is the Founding Director (1975-2001) and Special Advisor on Violence Prevention of the Centre for Children and Families in the Justice System of the London Family Court Clinic; member of the Clinical Adjunct Faculty for the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Western Ontario; former chair of the Board of Directors of the Battered Women's Advocacy Centre; and past Chairperson and a founding board member of the Board of Directors for the Centre for Research on Violence Against Women and Children. He gives presentations on violence and facilitates over 50 workshops a year for teachers, students, lawyers, judges, police, doctors, clergy and various community groups. Dr. Jaffe is the recipient of many awards and grants, author of numerous research articles, and co-author of four books dealing with children exposed to domestic violence.

As an undergraduate, Nancy K.D. Lemon helped create the first University of California Women's Studies major, and received a BA with honors from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1975. Following her graduation from Boalt Hall School of Law (University of California at Berkeley) in 1980, she specialized in domestic violence legal issues. Since 1988 she has taught Domestic Violence Law at Boalt, where she wrote Domestic Violence Law in 1996, the first published curriculum on this topic published in 1996 and 2001. While working at various non-profit agencies around the San Francisco Bay Area from 1981 through 1993, she represented hundreds of battered women obtaining restraining orders, and advocated for them with the civil and criminal justice systems.

Ms. Lemon has been active with the Policy and Research Committee of the California Alliance Against Domestic Violence since 1984 and has consulted on numerous pieces of legislation. She is the Associate Editor of Domestic Violence Report, a bimonthly national publication. She has published many books and articles in this field, has worked with other attorneys as a trial consultant, and has testified as an expert witness on domestic violence issues. She is also a consultant to the California Center for Judicial Education and Research (CJER), with whom she developed curricula for new judges and for court employees. 

Samantha Poisson is the Acting Co-ordinator of the London Custody and Access Project at the Centre for Children and Families in the Justice System of the London Family Court Clinic, and is currently completing her Doctorate in Education in Applied Psychology at the University of Toronto. She has been published extensively both in collaboration and alone on topics related to family violence, research, and custody and access issues. Her teaching experience has involved presentations and workshops involving Crown attorneys, family law associations and conferences on children. As well as her active involvement in research and training, she has worked extensively in the area of custody and access and expert assessments. Ms. Poisson is qualified as an expert witness in Ontario Court (Ontario Superior Court of Justice, General Division) and New Brunswick (Trial Division). 

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