Abuse and custody disputes: Scientific and Legal Issues
Maralee McLean (2018)
Toby G. Kleinman & Philip Kaplan. (2016)
Interviews with mothers who lost custody of their children to a father alleged to be an abuser.
Leadership Council survey on custody and abuse now available
This survey is for parents who are having difficulty safeguarding their children from abuse because of custody issues.
Take the survey
Leadership Council survey on custody and abuse now available
Radio Interview: Oct 09, 2006
Retired Judge Sol Gothard and nationally renowned attorney Richard Ducote talk with Lisa about custody law and policy involving protective parents, child abuse, the Leadership Council, and more.
Scholarly Articles and Reviews
- Articles Addressing Domestic Violence and Abuse Allegations in Custody and Visitation Disputes
- Scientific Studies Examining the Veracity of Sex Abuse Allegations in Child Custody Disputes – Are they more likely to be false?
- Are Protective Parents Losing Custody to Alleged Abusers? Evidence shows that women who raise concerns about family violence during custody litigation run the risk of losing their children.
- Research Indicating that the Majority of “High Conflict” Contested Custody Cases Involve a History of Domestic Violence.
- Using a Child Custody Dispute to Discredit Sex Abuse Allegations. Several sex offenders in treatment describe how they used a child custody dispute to prevent or discredit abuse allegations. Originally posted on Colorado Department of Correction’s website.
- Custody Myths – Too often custody decisions are based on myth, misinterpretation of facts, and evaluator bias. This article provides an overview of some of the erroneous beliefs that contribute to the problem of children not being protected from abuse in family court.
- Common Misconceptions in Addressing Domestic Violence in Child Custody Disputes – outlines seven misconceptions with respect to domestic violence and child custody that represent barriers to safety and accountability of women and children exposed to domestic violence.
- The influence of family structure on delinquency
General information on child sexual abuse
- In General, How Often do Children’s Reports of Sexual Abuse Turn out to be False?
- Factors influencing children to self-disclose sexual abuse. (PDF of Paine, M.L., & Hansen, D.J. (2002). Factors influencing children to self-disclose sexual abuse. Clinical Psychology Review, 22, 271-195; Copyright 2002, with permission from Elsevier)
- Childhood sexual abuse factsheet by Emily M. Douglas and David Finkelhor
- Eight Myths About Child Sexual Abuse – Misconceptions about child sexual abuse lead many people to be overly skeptical regarding allegations of child sexual abuse.
- Responding to Child Abuse & Neglect
Resources to help protect children ‘ s safety, support families, and reduce the risk of future harm. Includes information on reporting suspected child abuse and neglect; intake, investigation, and assessment of reports; case management; and responding to child fatalities and families affected by child neglect, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and substance abuse.
Information on Parental Alienation
- The Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) published an annual report focusing on child custody, visitation and domestic violence. According to the report: “It is now clear that the minimisation of domestic violence within family court processes is closely linked to an increasing use of the concept of “parental alienation” to undermine the views of child victims of domestic violence who fear contact with parents who have perpetrated domestic abuse despite the obvious risks this would entail for both adult and child victims.”
- World Health Organization refuses to recognize Parental Alienation as it is a legal concept not a health care term and has no evidence-based treatments.
- Press Release by Leadership Council — (French translation)
- What is “Parental Alienation Syndrome”?
- Articles Examining the Reliablity and/or Validity of Parental Alienation Syndrome and the Evidentiary Admissibility of PAS Articles on Differentiating Abuse from Alienation
- Overview of Dr. Richard Gardner’s Opinions on Pedophilia and Child Sexual Abuse Parental Alienation Syndrome and Parental Alienation: Research Reviews. Updated in 2013. This paper provides a historical and research overview of PAS and PA, identifies strategic issues for
- advocates working with abused women and children, and offers guidelines to improve courts’ treatment of these issues. PAS Bibliography complied by Joan Meier.
- PAS case law overview by DV LEAP
- Articles in the Popular Media on Protective Parents Losing Custody to an Abuser
Legal and Ethical Issues
- Professional Guidelines and Practice Parameters
- Legal Cases involving PAS
- Legal Briefs on PAS filed by Justice for Children. Also includes a guide for dealing with PAS allegations for attorneys or pro se litigants.
- Divorce: A Guide for Women
Designed to acquaint women considering a divorce with general information about divorce and the law. Provides women, regardless of circumstances surrounding their divorce, with knowledge and resources to help ensure that their children, health, finances and safety are secure. (Legal Momentum, 2000)
- Legal Resource Kit: Domestic Violence & Child Custody
Provides information, tips and resources regarding the specifics of child custody when domestic violence is an issue, applicable state and inter-state laws, Parental Alienation Syndrome, and the impact domestic violence has on children. (Legal Momentum, 2006)
- Filing a Judicial Complaint in State Courts: An Overview
An introduction to the judicial complaint process, which may be used when an individual believes that a judge presiding over her/his case acted inappropriately. (Legal Momentum, 2002)
- Guide to Court Watching in Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Cases
Provides information and resources about developing a court-watch program for domestic violence and/or rape and sexual assault cases in your community. This information can also help individuals interested in establishing a court-watch program for any issue. (Legal Momentum, 2002)
- Making a record for an appeal: Explains how to create a record so that you can appeal if you need to.
- Preparing for a Custody Evaluation: A Guide for Victims of Domestic Violence
- Resources for attorneys and advocates representing protective parents
- How to Find a Lawyer
A short guide explaining some things to keep in mind during your search for an attorney, including where to start, how to make a wise choice, an introduction to the client-attorney relationship, and what to do if you cannot afford an attorney. (Legal Momentum, 1999)
How to Find a Lawyer (Spanish) (Legal Momentum, 1998)
- The Leadership Council on Child Abuse & Interpersonal Violence: Conducts research and educates the public, health professionals and the courts onissues related to abuse including those arising during child custody and assess disputes. The LC submits amicus briefs in key cases involving child abuse and interpersonal violence. If you would like to request an amicus brief for a case click here.
- The Center for the Protection of Chlldren An educational organization, created to help protect children from the dangers of violence in the home.
The Center for Judicial Excellence: The Center for Judicial Excellence is a community-based organization established to improve the judiciary’s public accountability & strengthen & maintain the integrity of the courts
- Council for Family Court Reform: A group of concerned professionals, organizations, and individuals committed to ensuring the protection of children in family courts. E-Mail:[email protected]
- Child Justice Child Justice advocates for abused, neglected and at-risk children failed by systems that should protect them.Services include court watch in MD/VA/DC, emotional support for the protective parent/relative, and referrals to community services.
- Resource Center on Domestic Violence, Child Protection, and Custody NCJFCJ P.O. Box 8970 Reno, NV 89507 Phone: 800-527-3223 FAX: 775-784-6160
- Stop Family Violence Stop Family Violence’s mission is to organize and amplify our nation’s collective voice against family violence. SFV is a catalyst for social change – empowering people to take action at the local, state and national level to ensure safety, justice, accountability and healing for people whose lives are affected by violent relationships.
- The Battered Women’s Custody Conference
- National Domestic Violence Hotline
- Safety Planning Strategies from the
- National Coalitions Against Domestic Violence
- Center for the Prevention of Domestic Violence
- End Abuse
- Hart, B. J. (1990). Safety planning for children:
Strategizing for unsupervised visits with batterers[On-line]. Unpublished manuscript, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Available: http://www.mincava.umn.edu/hart/safetyp.htm Managing Your Divorce: A Guide
- for Battered Women. (1998). by The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. This guide is intended to be used by battered women who are representing themselves, without an attorney, in court cases involving child custody. The guide is available in English, Spanish, Mandarin, and Korean.
- Effective Intervention in Domestic Violence & Child Maltreatment Cases: Guidelines for Policy and Practice, by Susan Schechter and Jeffrey L. Edleson, PhD, (1999). The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. This publication, also known as the Greenbook, is the official policy of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and sets forth principles and recommendations for improving the policies and practices of child protection services, domestic violence services, and juvenile courts.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline
The 24-hour, toll-free Hotline provides Crisis intervention; Referrals to battered women’s shelters and programs, social service agencies, legal programs, and other groups and organizations willing to help; and Resources for battered women and their friends and families.
The hotline responds to a diverse group of individuals, including: Callers from all states, tribes, and territories; Non-English speaking callers; and Hearing-impaired callers. The NDV Hotline is able to put parents in touch with local shelters and domestic violence programs. To locate an organization that offers support and services in your area, contact your State Coalition. They may also have information regarding attorneys who are knowledgeable in custody cases involving a history of violence or abuse. Click here to view State Coalition List
- For more websites, see:
NCCEV’s Directory on Domestic Violence
Grassroots Organizations for Protective Parents and Their Children
- Courageous Kids Network This website brings together “courageous kids” — children who have been forced by court order to live with an allegedly abusive parent. A quote from the website: “We, of the CKN, would like to reach out to kids everywhere who are placed in similar situations. We want you to know you are not alone. Because of the current trend in family courts throughout the nation, many of us have experienced and suffered the same issues in our lives. We believe that together our voices can be heard, and that together our voices can make a difference to change the future.”
- Custody Preparation for Mothers (http://custodyprepformoms.org/): This website provides practical information for mothers who find themselves in custody disputes.
- California Protective Parents Association http://protectiveparents.com/): Website for the California Protective Parents Association.
- Illinois Coalition for Family Court Reform (http://www.icfcr.org/index.html): This group is fighting for family court reform in Illinois.
- mothers-of-lost-children.com (http://www.mothers-of-lost-children.com/) This site hosts a national survey and research project to obtain data on the number of protective parents who have lost custody to an allegedly abusive parent. The survey is being conducted by sociologist Dr. Geraldine Stahly. The website also provides practical advice for protective parents involved in a custody case.
- Mothers Research & Reference Center (http://www.mrrc.info/): This site offers information about Parental Alienation Syndrome, a listing of attorney’s and advocates for protective parents, information about progress relating to Bills before different State Legislatures trying to fix the injustices against woman by the Court System, etc.
- National Coalition For Family Justice(www.ncfj.org): This is a grassroots, gender neutral, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, founded in 1988 and headquartered in Irvington, New York. CFJ is run by volunteers who are dedicated to promoting justice in marital and family matters and to raising awareness of problems families experience in the divorce and family court system. The CFJ lists chapters in New York, New Hampshire, North Carolina and California as well as contacts in other areas.
- The National Family Court Watch Project The National Family Court Watch Project is dedicated to providing an impartial assessment of the effectiveness of family courts in dealing with custody, visitation, support and property issues. This project focuses on how well child protection and family violence concerns are resolved.
- Protective Mothers Alliance International (PMA): An international organization working to bring about change in family court through education, legislation reform,community outreach and enforcement of current legislation. Among the common family law practices PMA seeks to stop are: Custody of children granted to men who abuse women; those who abuse/have abused children; those who are perpetrators of sexual abuse towards children; and the granting of unsupervised contact with children to abusers with no requirement that they overcome their abusiveness.
- Rhode Island Parenting Project (blog) Focuses on the needs of children at risk in Family Court custody cases.
- Stopfamilyviolence.org: The people’s voice for family peace. Stop Family Violence is a national grassroots organization with a mission to organize and amplify our nation’s collective voice against family violence.
- CA3 -Children Against Court Appointed Child Abuse