Goals and Objectives: The major aim of this study is to examine the involvement of custody evaluators and corroborating evidence of a history of parental intimate partner violence (IPV) for their potential contribution to increasing protections awarded in child custody and visitation orders and lessening rates of post-dissolution IPV and child abuse.
Subjects: This study will involve a sample of King County, WA couples with minor children filing for marriage dissolution between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2010 who have a history of police- or court-documented intimate partner violence (IPV) preceding the filing date of the marriage dissolution. A complete sampling of custody cases with a history of IPV and a custody evaluation will be performed. Cases with a custody evaluation will be matched via propensity score techniques to comparison group cases without a custody evaluation. Propensity score matching will also be used for corroborating IPV evidence study groups, if deemed necessary.
Research Design and Methods: A retrospective cohort study will be conducted to accomplish study aims. Data collection will involve the use of existing police and court electronic data as well as extensive data collected from dissolution case files. Study groups will be assessed for covariate balance, and propensity score matching will be used for independent variables with insufficient covariate balance. The goals of this study will benefit from the substantial efforts of an NIJ-sponsored parent study designed, using propensity score matching, to examine the effect of legal representation of the IPV victim on child custody and visitation decisions. The parent study will provide approximately half of the custody evaluation cases and all the comparison group cases needed to accomplish study aims, and the infrastructure for successful, accurate data collection and efficient production of working datasets. The results from this project will help to inform US policy regarding the degree to which child custody evaluations and corroborating evidence of IPV history contribute to greater protections being awarded in child custody arrangements and the degree to which these protections lead to lower rates of IPV and child abuse following marriage dissolution among this high risk population.
Analysis: Multiple logistic, robust Poisson and Cox regression analyses will be conducted on the full or propensity score-matched samples.
Products, Reports, and Data Archiving: Study deliverables will include study data, interim and final reports, peer-reviewed manuscripts, dissemination of findings at professional scientific meetings and to stakeholders regionally, nationally and globally.
Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law.