EXCERPT from eligibility and background paper:
 
As a way to better inform our work on this issue, OVW has held four roundtable discussions 
since 2008 to examine the intersection of domestic violence and custody.  Meeting participants 
included subject-matter experts in the field, such as judges, attorneys, domestic violence 
advocates, researchers, child protection specialists and protective parents.  These experts 
identified the following issues as barriers to safe outcomes for battered women and their 
children involved in custody proceedings: 
 Lack of screening for domestic violence;  
 Judges’ limited access to pertinent information regarding the history of violence;  
 Inadequate training on the dynamics of domestic violence, the risk factors for continued 
violence after separation of the parents, and the effects of child exposure to domestic 
violence;  
 Over-reliance on third-party recommendations to the court;  
 Lack of training, standards and accountability for third-party evaluators making custody 
recommendations to the court, such as custody evaluators and guardians ad litem;  
 The private-pay system for custody evaluations rather than court-funded, which can 
distort the process and result in biased evaluations;  
 Inappropriate use of mental health assessments of the parent/s;  
 Limited access to attorneys;  
 Lack of information and resources for pro se litigants regarding court procedures; 
 Lack of services for families that come before the court;  
 Invisibility of children’s perspectives in court proceedings; 
 Effects of race, class and gender biases on outcomes; 
 Presence of structural barriers that delay hearings and court decisions; and 
 Lack of understanding about how batterers misuse the judicial process, which enables 
them to continue to harass and threaten survivors through protracted litigation. 
 
 
 

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