The Settlement Mission in Custody and Access Cases
“The Settlement Mission in Custody and Access Cases.” (2013)
30 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2012 Last revised: 23 Mar 2013
Date Written: July 2, 2012
Custody and access disputes occur when parents separate without agreeing about how to divide the on-going rights and responsibilities of parenthood. This article reports on empirical research with child custody evaluators who deal with these cases on a regular basis. On paper, the role of these professionals is to gather information and then make decisions about what parenting arrangements would be in the best interests of the children. However, the central finding of this research is that, in practice, their primary goal is to bring about voluntary settlement of the disputes. This article proposes an explanation for this phenomenon which is based on the evolution of custody and access law, procedure, and ideology over the past 30 years. The rise of the "logic of durability" is proposed as an explanation for the concerted pursuit of settlement among both child custody evaluators and family court judges.
Keywords: Family law, children's law, alternative dispute resolution, mediation
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