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.
• Interdisciplinary - law and mental health
• Collaborative and hopeful - emphasizes mediation and education rather than litigation. Emphasizes that positive change for parents and court systems is possible
• Accessible - carefully defines terms, written in non technical language, provides case studies of divorcing parents and of court programs to help them
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'A timely book that provides valuable insights into where we have been and where we should be going in resolving disputes over the custody of children - with the caveat that the interests of the child, not the parents or other professionals, must be at the heart of any systemic changes.' Linda D. Elrod, Professor of Law and Director Washburn Law School Children and Family Law Center; Editor, American Bar Association Family Law Quarterly
'This book is the fine work of a mature scholar who stands solidly at the intersection of the family law and social science communities. Professor Schepard incisively interprets the history of child custody courts, critically evaluates current practices and policies, and confidently points these communities in the direction of the future - a future where interdisciplinary collaboration between legal and mental health professionals will transform the traditional legal adversary system into family courts that can support rather than destroy the integrity, dignity, and strengths of divorcing parents and their children.' Janet R. Johnston, San Jose State University, co-author of Impasses of Divorce: The Dynamics and Resolution of Family Conflict and In the Name of the Child: A Developmental Approach to Understanding and Helping Children of Conflicted and Violent Divorce
'In addition to writing a seminal treatise on the major issues affecting the field of family law today, Professor Schepard has crafted an agenda for family law reform for the balance of the 21st century. Building on his standing as a scholar and pioneer of expansion of legal access and family court reform, Professor Schepard has provided an invaluable resource for family lawyers, judges, mediators, mental health practitioners, and researchers.' Forrest S. Mosten, UCLA School of Law, author of The Complete Guide to Mediation, Unbundling Legal Services, and Mediation Career Guide
'Professor Schepard's comprehensive review of the inadequacies of the traditional adversary system utilized in child custody courts, his compilation of the many interdisciplinary interventions in place around the world, and his agenda for reform should be mandatory reading for all family court policy makers as well as practitioners committed to developing a family court system dedicated to improving the lives of families and children.' Hon. Arline S. Rotman (ret.) Associate Justice, Massachusetts Probate and Family Court
'Children, Courts, and Custody presents a thoughtful analysis of the interaction between the family, legal and mental health systems that converge on divorcing parents and children. Lawyers, judges, mediators, custody evaluators, mental health professionals and policy makers will find this book provides a comprehensive overview of the field and a practical guide to family law reform.' Peter Salem, Executive Director, Association of Family and Conciliation Courts
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.