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Protective Mothers, Endangered Children: Tracing System Failure for Children of Divorce and Separation  

Author:  Geraldine Butts Stahly.; Connie Valentine.; Veronica York.

Source: Volume 14, Number 02, Fall 2021 , pp.7-34(28)

Family & Intimate Partner Violence Quarterly

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Data from original research on responses of 399 non-offending mothers from 39 states are presented regarding custody outcomes for children of divorce and separation when family violence was reported to law enforcement, child welfare services, attorneys for children, mediators, evaluators and judicial officers in United States family courts. Responses from 163 California mothers were compared with responses from 236 mothers from 38 other states. The principal finding is that, when mothers asked for protection for their children from abuse by fathers, their children were frequently placed at further risk. California mothers lost primary custody to alleged abusing fathers more often than mothers in other states (85.3% versus 74.6%). The significance of the findings is discussed, along with recommendations for system improvement and areas for further study.

Keywords: Domestic Violence and Custody in California Family Courts; Child Abuse in Divorce; Custody Evaluators; Power Imbalance; Bias; Adverse Childhood Experience Studies

Affiliations:  1: California State University; 2: California Protective Parents Association; 3: Certified High Conflict Divorce Coach.

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