Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Special Issue of Family Court Review Featuring Domestic Violence and Family Courts Available Online

The July 2008 issue of Family Court Review featuring outcomes from the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and the US National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Domestic Violence and Family Courts Project is available for free online for a limited period of time at

The highly anticipated special issue features articles co-authored by interdisciplinary experts from the domestic violence advocacy and family courts community. The issue addresses topics including terminology, differentiated approaches to parenting plans, screening and cultural issues. Guest edited by Professors Nancy Ver Steegh and Kelly Browe Olson, the issue also includes the Report on Wingspread Conference on Domestic Violence and Family Courts. The Report addresses critical tensions raised by the growing awareness that not all uses of violence in intimate relations are the same.

As an example one of the articles is co-authored by renowned researchers Peter Jaffe and (Australian) Janet Johnston, on a differentiated approach in custody disputes in dealing with issues of domestic violence.

The abstract of that article states:

Premised on the understanding that domestic violence is a broad concept that encompasses a wide range of behaviors from isolated events to a pattern of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse that controls the victim, this article addresses the need for a differentiated approach to developing parenting plans after separation when domestic violence is alleged. A method of assessing risk by screening for the potency, pattern, and primary perpetrator of the violence is proposed as a foundation for generating hypotheses about the type of and potential for future violence as well as parental functioning. This kind of differential screening for risk in cases where domestic violence is alleged provides preliminary guidance in identifying parenting arrangements that are appropriate for the specific child and family and, if confirmed by a more in-depth assessment, may be the basis for a long-term plan. A series of parenting plans are proposed, with criteria and guidelines for usage depending upon this differential screening, ranging from highly restricted access arrangements (no contact with perpetrators of family violence and supervised access or monitored exchange) to relatively unrestricted ones (parallel parenting) and even co-parenting. Implications for practice are considered within the context of available resources.

The Family Court Review is the academic and research journal of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, published by Wiley-Blackwell in cooperation with Hofstra Law School’s Center for Children, Families and the Law.


Stephnanie Angelo said...

Thank you for posting this information. As I research around the globe to assist in my DV consulting to businesses, it's helpful to know what others are doing.

Stephanie Angelo, SPHR

Stephen Page said...

This is what Kelly Browe Olsen had to say:

As one of the co-editors of the special issue of Family Court Review (FCR) on domestic violence, and a member of AFCC, I would like to offer my perspective on this issue of the Family Court Review and AFCC.

First, and importantly, this issue and the Project on Domestic Violence and Family Courts are co-sponsored by AFCC and the Family Violence Department of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. This is a collaborative endeavor and an ongoing partnership.

Second, the special issue resulted from the Wingspread Conference on Domestic Violence and Family Courts sponsored by AFCC and NCJFCJ. The recent AFCC conference in Vancouver in late May focused on the DV issues raised in the special edition and was supported by NCJFJC. Participants in these conferences included a significant number of leaders from the domestic violence advocacy community along with legal scholars, practitioners and researchers, including Loretta Frederick, Sujata Warrier, Peter Jaffe and Clare Dalton. AFCC provided funding for several advocates to attend the conference in Vancouver in order to expand the discussion about differentiation addressed in the FCR. I hope you will talk to them or any of the advocates who participated as presenters in the conference or the Domestic Violence in Family Courts Project about their experiences.

Third, child custody disputes, domestic violence and child abuse and neglect are all problems that impact multiple disciplines and the best ideas and contributions from all of us are necessary if we are to effectively move toward solutions for families. AFCC is dedicated to addressing and resolving problems in our families and court systems through an interdisciplinary approach to these issues. Over the past 10 years, I have found AFCC to be an organization committed to the safety and well-being of victims and children, the effective and appropriate use of dispute resolution in family court settings, and collaboration across professions. I know that AFCC leadership is very pleased to be working with the DV advocacy community and I hope and believe that the feeling is mutual. To this end, please note that the articles in the special issue were either co-authored or written by representatives from the DV advocacy community and the family court community. The co-written articles model what we believe to be important interdisciplinary collaborations.

Fourth, AFCC members come from more than a dozen disciplines. We are judges, lawyers, mediators, custody evaluators, researchers and legal scholars, parenting coordinators, advocates and others who work in family court. A number of my fellow members have significant experience and background working in the domestic violence arena, others are well educated about DV and some don’t know enough and benefit from the opportunities to learn more about DV at the AFCC conferences; the point of Project on DV and Family Courts is to continue that education by working closely with the DV advocacy community to integrate even more DV expertise into AFCC. As an example, my co-editor, Nancy Ver Steegh, is on the AFCC Board of Directors and was at one time a DV advocate as a legal aid lawyer and led a class action suit on behalf of battered women against the East St. Louis. IL police department. She subsequently became a law professor and is widely recognized for her expertise in DV.

Finally, it is certainly true that we do not all view DV the same way. I suspect that upon reflection, there would be many different perspectives. The professionals who have been involved in the special issue and the project consider DV to be an incredibly complex phenomenon and know that there are no one-size-fits all answers. While there has by no means been consensus on all these issues, there is agreement among those involved that we must find ways to collaborate across disciplines if we are to effectively use resources, leverage research and ideas, develop appropriate and effective interventions to meet the intense and varied needs of the families we serve.

I encourage you to read the special edition. The Wingspread Conference Report written by Clare Dalton and Nancy Ver Steegh and Peter Salem and Billie Lee Dunford-Jackson’s Call for Collaboration are especially relevant to this discussion. The entire volume was written in order to further the dialogue on the impact of domestic violence on families.