CUSTODY DISPUTES INVOLVING ALLEGATIONS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: TOWARD A DIFFERENTIATED APPROACH TO PARENTING PLANS

Authors


pjaffe@uwo.ca; johnston@sjsu.edu; ccrooks@uwo.ca; bala@queensu.ca

Abstract

Premised on the understanding that domestic violence is a broad concept that encompasses a wide range of behaviors from isolated events to a pattern of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse that controls the victim, this article addresses the need for a differentiated approach to developing parenting plans after separation when domestic violence is alleged. A method of assessing risk by screening for the potency, pattern, and primary perpetrator of the violence is proposed as a foundation for generating hypotheses about the type of and potential for future violence as well as parental functioning. This kind of differential screening for risk in cases where domestic violence is alleged provides preliminary guidance in identifying parenting arrangements that are appropriate for the specific child and family and, if confirmed by a more in-depth assessment, may be the basis for a long-term plan. A series of parenting plans are proposed, with criteria and guidelines for usage depending upon this differential screening, ranging from highly restricted access arrangements (no contact with perpetrators of family violence and supervised access or monitored exchange) to relatively unrestricted ones (parallel parenting) and even co-parenting. Implications for practice are considered within the context of available resources.

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