Child custody evaluations and domestic violence: New research and implications for practice - Daniel Saunders

This event was held on 18 March 2015 at Epsom Campus, University of Auckland.

When couples separate, the risk of intimate partner violence, abuse, harassment and homicide often continues or increases. Safety and human rights concerns in custody-visitation proceedings are gaining increased attention because professionals often do not detect abuse, do not take it seriously, or apply non-legal factors in their determinations. This presentation highlights new US research findings on child custody evaluations in cases involving domestic violence, focusing on the beliefs and recommendations of the professionals involved in these determinations. Implications of the research for policy and practice are described.

Daniel Saunders


Daniel Saunders, PhD is Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan, USA. He established one of the first intervention programs for men who batter and helped to establish crisis and advocacy programs for battered women in the 1970s. His research, teaching, and service centre on the problems of dating and domestic violence. His specific studies focus on offender program evaluation, the traumatic effects of victimisation, and the response of professionals and the public to dating and domestic violence. He has testified as an expert witness in cases of domestic homicide and custody cases involving domestic abuse. Professor Saunders' most recent projects involve an evaluation of supervised visitation programs for the children of battered women and a survey of child custody evaluators regarding their beliefs and recommendations about child custody/access in domestic abuse cases. From February to May 2015, Professor Saunders is a Fulbright scholar based at Te Awatea Violence Research Centre, University of Canterbury, Christchurch.


Contact the Clearinghouse for presentation material.

Additional material

Saunders, D. G., Faller, K. C., & Tolman, R. M. (2011).
Child custody evaluators’ beliefs about domestic abuse allegations: Their relationship to evaluator demographics, background, domestic violence knowledge and custody-visitation recommendations. Final Technical Report Submitted to the National Institute of Justice. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan, School of Social Work.

Saunders, D. G., Tolman, R. M., & Faller, K. C. (2013).
Factors associated with child custody evaluators’ recommendations in cases of intimate partner violence. Journal of Family Psychology, 27(3), 473-483.