Domestic Violence, Child Welfare, and the Courts
Collaboration among child welfare agencies, the courts, and domestic violence advocates is essential to better understand and respond to the multifaceted issues faced by children, youth, and families affected by domestic violence. The following resources provide information on State and local laws and policies as well as recommendations for practices, strategies, and guidelines to improve services for domestic violence victims and children exposed to violence.
National Judicial Institute on Domestic Violence
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
Helps judges and judicial officers identify and resolve issues in cases involving domestic violence and improves the justice system's ability to intervene in and prevent violence against women and children.
Commission on Domestic Violence
American Bar Association
Provides individualized support to attorneys representing victims of domestic violence that includes research assistance, sample practice tools, model pleadings, and access to experts in the field.
A National Portrait of Domestic Violence Courts (PDF - 557 KB)
Labriola, Bradley, O'Sullivan, Rempel, & Moore (2009)
Explores how criminal domestic violence courts have evolved, their rationale, and how their operations vary across the United States.
Children and Teenagers Testifying in Domestic Violence Cases (PDF - 551 KB)
Cunningham & Hurley (2007)
In A Full and Candid Account: Using Special Accommodations and Testimonial Aids to Facilitate the Testimony of Children
Provides an overview of domestic violence court and ways to support the unique needs of children who are potential witnesses in domestic violence cases.
Children's Exposure to Domestic Violence: A Guide to Research and Resources (PDF - 1760 KB)
Helps judges and practitioners identify and understand the key issues surrounding children's exposure to domestic violence.
The Court's Role in Supporting and Protecting Children Exposed to Domestic Violence (PDF - 430 KB)
Hitchens & Van Horn
Journal of the Center for Families, Children and the Courts, 6, 2005
Summarizes literature on the effects on children of witnessing domestic violence, the impact of violence on parenting behavior, and children's safety with offending parents. Recommends specific ways courts can work together to serve children and families and proposes policies that protect children's interests.
Cross-System Dialogue: An Effective Strategy to Promote Communication Between the Domestic Violence Community, Child Welfare System, and the Courts (PDF - 93 KB)
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (2008)
Discusses barriers to collaboration and communication, presents criteria for determining if cross-system dialogue will benefit a community, and explains the three steps for using cross-system dialogue to address conflict in a productive manner.
Domestic Violence Resource Guide
National Center for State Courts
Links to related online resources in the areas of batterer intervention, coordinated community response, human trafficking, prevention, research/evaluation, the Violence Against Women Act, and more.
A Family Affair: The Juvenile Court and Family Violence Cases
Journal of Family Violence, 22(7), 2007
Examines differences in court treatment between adolescents who are family violence offenders versus nonfamily offenders and considers implications for policy and practice.
A Judicial Checklist for Children and Youth Exposed to Violence (PDF - 520 KB)
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (2006)
Discusses the effects on children and youth of exposure to violence and summarizes promising community collaborations that employ a multidisciplinary approach in responding to children's exposure to violence. Also see the checklist. (PDF - 184 KB)
Report From the Wingspread Conference on Domestic Violence and Family Courts (PDF - 338 KB)
Ver Steegh & Dalton (2008)
Identifies five conceptual and practical tensions that have hampered effective work with families in which domestic violence has been identified or alleged, and emphasizes the need for continued multidisciplinary collaboration.
When Child Abuse or Neglect and Domestic Violence Co-Occur
The Judges' Page Newsletter, October 2010
Explores the link between child abuse or neglect and domestic violence and calls on court-affiliated organizations and communities to develop collaborative solutions that meet the needs of victims.
Custody and visitation
Child Custody and Visitation Decisions in Domestic Violence Cases: Legal Trends, Risk Factors, and Safety Concerns (PDF - 102 KB)
Describes major legal and social trends surrounding custody and visitation decisions and the social science evidence supporting the need to consider domestic violence in these decisions.
Differentiating Types of Domestic Violence: Implications for Child Custody
Louisiana Law Review, 65(4), 2005
Examines child custody determinations when dealing with different types of domestic violence and offers suggestions for appropriate court procedures and services such as parent education, mediation, supervised visitation and parent coordination.
Navigating Custody and Visitation Evaluations in Cases With Domestic Violence: A Judge's Guide (PDF - 348 KB)
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (2004)
Serves as a practical tool for judges on how to interpret and act on professional child custody evaluations when domestic violence is involved in family law cases. Includes bench cards and supplementary materials.
Parenting Arrangements After Domestic Violence: Safety as a Priority in Judging Children's Best Interest (PDF - 233 KB)
Jaffe, Crooks, & Wong
Journal of the Center for Families, Children and the Courts, 6, 2005
Discusses parenting plans when one parent has a history of perpetrating domestic violence against the other parent and provides strategies for courts to limit the opportunities for children to be exposed to parental conflict and violence.
State and local examples
Ada County Family Violence Court: Replication Manual (PDF - 2960 KB)
Describes the Ada County, Idaho, project and offers practical implementation suggestions for child welfare agencies or courts interested in replicating it. Also see the Case Coordinator Handbook (PDF - 1700 KB) and Comprehensive Evaluation Report (PDF - 3810 KB).
Domestic Violence Advocacy in Dependency Court: The Miami-Dade Dependency Court Intervention Program for Family Violence Handbook (PDF - 2170 KB)
Maze, Aaron, & Lederman (2005)
Describes the development, implementation, and daily operations of a program in Miami-Dade County designed to address co-occurring domestic violence and child maltreatment in a dependency court setting.
Families in Court for Child Protection and Domestic Violence (PDF - 110 KB)
Children, Families and the Courts Ohio Bulletin, 1(2), 2003
Discusses reasons for coordinating efforts to combat child maltreatment and domestic violence and describes the experiences of several Ohio communities in addressing the issue.
The Santa Clara County Juvenile Domestic and Family Violence Court (PDF - 214 KB)
Sagatun-Edwards, Hyman, Lafontaine, & Nelson-Serrano
Journal of the Center for Families, Children and the Courts, 4, 2003
Describes an innovative court-based intervention program in California and presents an evaluation of its effectiveness.