Graduation Date

Spring 5-25-2017

Grading Professor

Andy Lehren

Subject Concentration


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Research shows that allegations of domestic violence, child abuse, and child sexual abuse are frequently discounted when raised in child custody litigation.'

Approximately 58,000 children are placed with physically or sexually abusive parents through family courts in the United States, according to Joyanna Silberg PhD, Executive Vice President of the Leadership Council.

Furthermore, because medical evidence in sexual abuse cases is so scant, and the burden of proof is so great, these cases are extremely difficult to prosecute. Unfortunately, fewer than 5 percent of child sexual abuse cases have medical evidence.

Protecting children in the middle of high conflict divorces is the most important function of the state's family courts, and arguably one of the most significant duties of the judiciary as a whole. I found widespread systemic problems in the family courts' methods for investigating allegations of child sexual abuse. Inadequate procedures, the use of debated and potentially dangerous psychological theories about child welfare; and a prejudice toward joint parental custody, even when one parent is clearly abusive lead to poor custody court decisions where children are being put in the hands of their perpetrators.

Included in

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