Decision-Making in Custody Cases Involving Domestic Violence: A Review of the Literature

April 29, 2016


This publication summarizes results of empirical research studies on decision-making in custody cases involving domestic violence. It specifically focuses on how a variety of case-related factors and individual characteristics may influence the decision-making of three key professional groups: judicial officers, custody evaluators, and mediators. Case-related factors include type and nature of alleged abuse, evidence of abuse, and state statutes; individual characteristics include knowledge, beliefs, experiences, and gender. Gaps in the existing literature and future directions for research are identified. Although there is much to learn, this review is intended to provide a foundation for understanding what is currently known about decision-making in custody matters involving domestic violence for a broad range of professionals (e.g., advocates, administrators, policy-makers, attorneys, service providers, judicial officers).