In recent decades, scholars and professionals have investigated the courts' treatment of mothers and children who claim that an ex-partner/father is abusive, especially in child custody proceedings. In Italy, Laws 54/2006 and 154/2013 established that joint-custody and coparenting are critical to ensure the best interest of the child. In the process of custody determination, judges can appoint an expert to assess parenting skills. The aim of this qualitative study was to investigate the knowledge, opinions, and practices of the Court-Appointed Experts (CAEs) in child custody disputes in cases involving allegations of domestic violence (DV). Semistructured face-to-face interviews were conducted with 15 CAEs; the interviews' transcripts were analyzed with qualitative content analysis. Results suggested that in the management of child custody cases, most CAEs showed: strong prejudices against women victims of DV, who were often blamed and/or secondarily victimized; adherence to controversial models (e.g., parental alienation syndrome) and characterization of mothers as "alienators"; poor knowledge of DV and relevant laws. CAEs' overlooking DV underlines the urgent need to develop and implement guidelines on child custody decision-making in the context of DV.

How Expert Are the Experts? Child Custody Evaluations in Situations of Domestic Violence in Italy

Feresin, Mariachiara
;
Santonocito, Marianna
2023-01-01

Abstract

In recent decades, scholars and professionals have investigated the courts' treatment of mothers and children who claim that an ex-partner/father is abusive, especially in child custody proceedings. In Italy, Laws 54/2006 and 154/2013 established that joint-custody and coparenting are critical to ensure the best interest of the child. In the process of custody determination, judges can appoint an expert to assess parenting skills. The aim of this qualitative study was to investigate the knowledge, opinions, and practices of the Court-Appointed Experts (CAEs) in child custody disputes in cases involving allegations of domestic violence (DV). Semistructured face-to-face interviews were conducted with 15 CAEs; the interviews' transcripts were analyzed with qualitative content analysis. Results suggested that in the management of child custody cases, most CAEs showed: strong prejudices against women victims of DV, who were often blamed and/or secondarily victimized; adherence to controversial models (e.g., parental alienation syndrome) and characterization of mothers as "alienators"; poor knowledge of DV and relevant laws. CAEs' overlooking DV underlines the urgent need to develop and implement guidelines on child custody decision-making in the context of DV.
2023
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11368/3061058
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