Safety First: A Model for Understanding Domestic Violence in Child Custody and Access Disputes

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Child custody evaluation, domestic violence

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A substantial percentage of contested child custody cases involve allegations of domestic violence. The impact on the psychological health and physical safety of the child exposed to domestic violence has only recently become a focus of the courts' and child custody evalu-ators' attention. Currently, the majority of state statutes include consideration of domestic violence in “best interests” child custody criteria. However, many of the statues do not provide the child custody evaluator the specific criteria to consider, especially if the domestic violence allegations have not been previously reported to authorities prior to the commencement of separation and divorce proceedings. This article presents the first three steps of the six-step Safety First Model, designed to assist the legal and psychological professions to focus on the priorities on the safety of children exposed to domestic violence.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Child Custody, v. 1, issue 2, p. 75-103