Psychological Assessments Recommended to Measure Effects of Domestic Violence
Wednesday, August 22, 2007 5:36 PM

During child custody hearings, family courts and domestic violence advocates can use results from psychological assessments as tools to measure the effect of violence on children in the home.

Some advocates maintain that these tools are not utilized enough, resulting in violent parents getting custody.  According to a 1996 report of the American Psychological Association, nonviolent parents were less likely to petition for sole custody than abusive parents. The National Center for State Courts reported that abusive parents gained custody in seventy percent of cases. Cost and time are two reasons why children often do not receive psychological assessments measuring trauma related to domestic violence.

Some fathers rights groups argue that accusations of domestic violence in a family law matter should be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, as opposed to the lower preponderance of the evidence standard typically employed in civil cases.  They maintain that in a minority of cases, false accusations of domestic violence lead to good parents losing custody or parental alienation syndrome,  which the American Psychological Association does not recognize as a disorder.

Compiled from: Custody Disputes Often Bypass Abuse Assessments, Marie Tessier, Womens e-News, 6 July 2007.