This study investigates how courts handle batterers' petitions for visitation and the population at risk for violence during child visitation.
The study was conducted in New York City and Westchester County, NY and relied on four sources of information: (1) a random sample of custody and visitation cases in New York City Family Courts in 1995 (n=1,692); (2) visitation cases in Westchester County in 1995 (n=222); (3) counselors' case records in a felony domestic violence court (n=97); and (4) interviews with attorneys who represented victims of domestic violence in Family Courts in New York City and Westchester (n=20). Lawyers representing victims in family court reported "constant" abuse in the context of visitation. Domestic violence did not seem to affect the court's response to visitation petitions, however. The courts rarely exercised the option of denying visitation when there was a risk of violence. Recommendations to reduce the risk of violence include supervised visitation and denying visitation to fathers who pose a serious risk of violence. Additional training of law guardians and forensic examiners on the dynamics of domestic violence might enable them to be more helpful to judges. Tables, references