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NCJ Number: 202031 Find in a Library
Title: Custody, Domestic Violence and a Child's Preference
Journal: Domestic Violence Report  Volume:8  Issue:5  Dated:June/July 2003  Pages:65-66,77
Author(s): Judith M. Reichler; Nancy S. Erickson
Date Published: June 2003
Page Count: 3
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines issues relating to custody disputes in cases where there is a history of domestic violence.
Abstract: The case of Wissink v. Wissink is examined in order to describe the issues involved with child custody disputes that involve a history of domestic violence. In this case, the teenage daughter expressed a preference to the court to live with her father. However, there had been a long, well-documented history of severe domestic violence in which the father was the perpetrator. Despite this history, the court awarded custody to the father, only to be overturned later because the reviewing Justice determined the history of domestic violence was not taken seriously enough. The article goes on to outline the reasons why a child or adolescent might state a preference for living with the abusive parent in child custody cases involving domestic violence. Motivations such as fear and the desire to protect the nonabusive parent may lead children to state a preference for the abusive parent. Moreover, the psychological and emotional scars of domestic violence may skew the child’s perception of the violence. The article describes the standards that, based on the Wissink decision, should be used to determine custody in cases involving a history of domestic violence. Such standards include a four part evaluation involving a clinical evaluation, psychological testing, a review of the records, and information gathered from collateral sources. It is also noted that the Wissink decision may lead to changes regarding the appointment of forensic evaluators; such evaluators may be required to have expertise in the dynamics of domestic violence before they are allowed to present the court with evidence regarding custody disputes. In conclusion, the author asserts that it is imperative that professionals within the justice system become aware of the ways in which domestic violence can influence a child’s ability to make important life decisions.
Main Term(s): Child custody; Domestic assault
Index Term(s): Juvenile psychological evaluation; Psychological victimization effects; Victims of violent crime
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