Making appropriate parenting arrangements in family violence cases: applying the literature to identify promising practices


The authors appreciate the feedback received from numerous individuals during the preparation of this paper. Although we have benefited from many of our Canadian colleagues in developing these ideas, we also turned to other jurisdictions that had more experience in legislative and public policy reform in regards to family violence and child custody. In particular, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) has been at the forefront in this area since their publication of a Model Code in 1994 that addresses parenting plans after family violence. We sought the opinion of Billie–Lee Dunford–Jackson, Co–Director, Family Violence Department, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Reno, NV as well as three senior judges actively involved with NCJFCJ and judicial training—Judge Sue Carbon, Supervisory Judge of the Grafton County Family Division, Plymouth NH, Judge Dale Koch, Presiding Judge, Multnomah County, Portland, Oregon, and Judge Frances Wong, Senior Family Court Judge, Honolulu, Hawaii. We received invaluable insights from Janet Johnston, San Jose State University, San Jose, California, who has been a pioneer in understanding the nature of high conflict divorce on adults and children. To gain the perspective of battered women's advocates in the U.S. on emerging legislation and practice in this area, we solicited feedback from three senior lawyers—Loretta Fredericks, Legal Counsel, Battered Women's Justice Project, Minneapolis, Joan Zorza, Esq., Editor, Domestic Violence Report & Sexual Assault Report, and Nancy Lemon, Lecturer and Clinical Instructor, Boalt Hall School of Law, Berkley, CA.

Department of Justice staff, Catherine Thomson (Senior Research Officer), Claire Farid (Counsel), Matthew Taylor (Counsel), and Shannon Davis–Ermuth (Counsel) provided very helpful comments on several drafts of the paper. Linda Baker and Alison Cunningham, as well as Alyce LaViolette deserve special recognition for their excellent conceptual frameworks, which were included as figures in this report. We would also like to acknowledge the other members of the London Custody and Access Project of the Centre for Children and Families in the Justice System. The collegial support of this group in wrestling with these difficult issues in custody and access proceedings has been invaluable over the years.

Special thanks are also due to Jennifer Root, who assisted with the background research and production of this document, and Jeanie MacWilliam who translated our concepts into diagrams.

Most of all, we are indebted to the families we have worked with over the years. In particular, the plight of abuse victims and their children have educated us on the shortcomings of our existing systems to deal consistently and effectively with the issue of family violence in the context of child custody disputes. Furthermore, the valued input of judges, lawyers and custody assessors that we have gained through conducting training has helped us formulate the frameworks presented in this paper.

Funding of this project by the Federal Government is gratefully acknowledged.

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