BWJP Launches New Custody-Related Practice Worksheets

BWJP is pleased to announce the release of a new set of child custody-related practice worksheets for advocates, attorneys, and other family court professionals. The new worksheets augment the Practice Guides for Domestic Violence-Informed Decision-Making that BWJP developed in connection with the OVW-sponsored National Child Custody Project. The worksheets offer a way to consolidate, synthesize, and account for information about the nature, context and implications of abuse in child custody cases. They guide practitioners to develop more DV-informed and DV-responsive parenting arrangements in disputed child custody matters.

The new practice worksheets are available, free of cost, on BWJP's website along with an instructional video on their intended use. BWJP strongly encourages practitioners to watch the video before using the worksheets. BWJP will periodically offer in-person and on-line workshops on the proper use of the new practice worksheets. If are unable to attend, you may access any recording afterwards in our Resource Center.

We strongly encourage you to watch the instructional video, attend a workshop or access a recorded webinar before utilizing any of the practice guides or worksheets, as misuse of the material may result in unintended negative consequences.

Note: An interactive, online version of all of the practice guides and worksheets is currently under development. We expect to go live towards the end of the year. Be sure to check back with us in the coming months for more information.

View and download the worksheets now.

Three-Part Custody Webinar Series 

BWJP is hosting a three-part webinar series on domestic violence-related child custody issues which began on June 22, 2016. 

The first installment introduced participants to a DV-informed approach to child custody decision-making that guides the family court system to produce safer, more workable outcomes for battered parents and their children. The key elements of that approach are to effectively identify if and when domestic violence is an issue in a case; explore the full nature and context of any abuse that is detected; examine the real life implications of the abuse that is or has been occurring; and account for the abuse in all parenting recommendations, decisions and related activities – all in a way that facilitates practitioner’s ability to act in the best interest of children living with domestic violence. View the recording. 

The second webinar in the series, which is set for June 29, 2016, explores the contours of coercive controlling abuse and offers guidance on making a case for coercive control to family court professionals. 

The third installment focuses on parenting. It is set for July 6, 2016 and offers guidance on identifying, understanding and accounting for the effects of coercive control on post-separation parenting and co-parenting.

If you miss the series, or any part of it, you may access a recording in our Resource Center. 

AFCC Board Approves Domestic Violence Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations

The Board of Directors of the Association of Family & Conciliation Courts (“AFCC”) recently approved a set of comprehensive domestic violence guidelines for child custody evaluations (“the Guidelines”). The Guidelines supplement the more general (non-DV-specific) Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluations, which were approved by the AFCC board in 2006 and remain in effect today. The overarching goal of the Guidelines is to improve outcomes for children and parents in DV-related child custody disputes by promoting accountability and elevating DV-informed practice. BWJP is optimistic that the Guidelines will improve decision-making in DV-related child custody cases and produce better outcomes overall for victims of battering and their children.

The Guidelines are the product of a collaborative, multidisciplinary effort by AFCC and the National Council of Juvenile & Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) in consultation with the Battered Women’s Justice Project. They endeavor to be attentive to the real life experiences of battered parents and children, fair to those who are alleged to have committed DV, and compatible with the various professional standards that govern practice in the field. The Guidelines were several years in the making; they resulted from hours of intense debate, evolving bodies of knowledge, dozens of drafts, repeated calls for public comment, and sustained institutional diligence.

The Guidelines are available, free of charge, at AFCC's website. For more information, please contact Loretta Frederick at lfrederick@bwjp.org or Gabrielle Davis at gdavis@bwjp.org.