A new University of Illinois study of the way child custody evaluators make their decisions says courts that apply a one-size-fits-all model to child custody cases are potentially endangering mothers and children.
The study found that child custody evaluator’s beliefs generally fall into two categories: one category that believes conflict is a natural part of relationships and de-emphasizes the potential for domestic violence, and another category that is more sensitive to the nuances of domestic violence and makes recommendations that prioritize the safety of women and children.
Jennifer Hardesty, a University of Illinois associate professor of human and community development and author of the study, noted that approximately 20 percent of divorces in the U.S. involve child custody disputes that require judicial intervention. Domestic violence allegations are raised in about 75 percent of those cases.
She found that child custody evaluators in general have little formal training in the dynamics of domestic violence, and called for standardized, mandated training for child custody evaluators that would teach them how to discriminate between different kinds of conflict in a divorcing couples’ relationship.
If you are involved in a child custody dispute that may require the services of a child custody evaluator, you need to prepare properly for your evaluation. Contact a Jacksonville child custody lawyer for assistance.