For years now, survivors and advocates have complained that the family court system is failing to adequately protect the safety and wellbeing of children – and their battered and battering parents – in child custody cases where domestic violence is alleged.
In 2009, in an effort to respond to that reality, the Office on Violence Against Women at the U.S. Department of Justice entered into a two-year cooperative agreement with BWJP to develop a framework to help family court practitioners better identify, understand and account for the context and implications of domestic violence in child custody cases. That cooperative agreement was twice extended and expanded to support the development of policies, protocols and practice guides, as well as state-of-the-art training materials, to help family court practitioners across disciplines improve safety for battered parents and their children during and beyond court proceedings.
Through ongoing work with communities as culturally and economically diverse as Henry County, Ohio and Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, the Custody Project is leading the nation’s journey into a better understanding of how domestic violence relates to parenting and how family court practitioners can best respond to parents’ and children’s experiences of domestic violence in individual cases. The project continues to develop new training curricula and tools for practitioners to use in order to identify, understand and account for domestic violence in their cases and revises them regularly in response to the feedback from the field.