Final Report of the Impact of Legal Representation on Child Custody Decisions Among Families with a History of Intimate Partner Violence Study

By: Mary A. Kernic. Report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. Published in: May 2015.

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The abstract reads: “A retrospective cohort study was conducted among King County, Washington couples with minor children who filed for marriage dissolution within the King County Superior Court (KCSC) system between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2010 and who had a history of police- or court-documented intimate partner violence (IPV). The major aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that legal representation of the IPV victim in child custody decisions leads to greater legal protections being awarded in child custody and visitation decisions compared to similar cases of unrepresented IPV victims. We examined the effect of legal representation of the IPV victim separately by whether the victim was represented by a legal aid attorney or private attorney. Comparison group unrepresented subjects were matched to represented subjects using nearest neighbor propensity score matching within calipers. […]

Attorney representation, particularly representation by legal aid attorneys with expertise in IPV cases, resulted in greater protections being awarded to IPV victims and their children. Improved access of IPV victims to legal representation, particularly by attorneys with expertise in IPV, is indicated.”



Categories: Children, Domestic Violence, Family, Family, Legal Aid Attorneys, Legal Aid Practitioners, National, Policymakers and Funders, Researchers and Academics, Victims of Crime

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