Intimate Partner Sexual Abuse
Adjudicating This Hidden Dimension of Domestic Violence Cases
National Judicial Education Program
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Module VII: Custody and Visitation Implications

Key Points: Custody And Visitation Implications
  • Children whose mothers are sexually abused are more psychologically harmed than children whose mothers are physically abused only.
  • A history of sexual assaults against the mother is linked to increased risk of sexual and physical abuse of children.
  • Courts have often been more punitive than helpful in securing safety for victims of domestic violence and their children.
  • Among high-conflict custody cases, 75% have been found to involve domestic violence.
  • Most jurisdictions now require courts to consider the presence of domestic violence in making custody and visitation determinations.
  • Abusive fathers are more likely to seek custody than other fathers, and there is indication that more often than not, they are awarded custody.
  • Children may conclude that their safety depends on maintaining close ties with the abusive parent.
  • Joint custody is inappropriate in cases presenting a history of intimate partner sexual abuse or other domestic violence.
  • Custody evaluators present their own biases and should not substitute for the court's own judgment.
  • “Parental Alienation Syndrome” is a wholly discredited theory, completely lacking in scientific validity.
  • Mediation, joint counseling and other cooperative approaches to dispute resolution are not appropriate in custody cases involving intimate partner sexual abuse and other types of domestic violence cases.


Module VII → Key Points: Custody And Visitation Implications
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