Courts today seek to involve both parents in a child's life rather than choosing between them. Mediation and education have replaced the courtroom as the primary forum for resolving parental disputes. This book provides an overview of these trends in law, conflict resolution and mental health and the empirical research that supports them. It analyzes the principle challenges facing the child custody court of today: assuring the safety of parents and children from violence and providing access to justice and services. It examines how the roles of key courtroom players - judges, lawyers for both parents and children and mental health professionals - must change to promote the best interests of children. The book concludes with an agenda for reform of the child custody court based on interdisciplinary collaboration that can help courts meet the needs of twenty-first century parents and children.
Preface; 1. Overview; 2. Kramer vs Kramer revisited: the sole custody/adversary system paradigm; 3. Divorce, children and courts: an empirical perspective; 4. Parents are forever I: joint custody and parenting plans; 5. Parents are forever II: Alternative dispute resolution and mediation; 6. Parents are forever III: Court-affiliated educational programs; 7. Contrasting child custody court paradigms: New York and California; 8. Family violence; 9. Differentiated case management; 10. Lawyers for parents; 11. The voice of the child, the lawyer for the child and child alienation; 12. Neutral Mental Health Evaluators; 13. The best interests test and its presumption-based competitors; 14. Consolidating the new paradigm: the future of the child custody court; Acknowledgements; Endnotes.