The Justice for Families Supervised Visitation and Safe Exchange Grant Program (Supervised Visitation Program) requires a partnership with the court system. Courts must remain vigilant regarding the potential danger inherent in domestic violence cases and take appropriate steps to protect the physical safety of child(ren) and adult victims when they come to court.

When there is a finding of domestic violence, courts can protect child(ren) and adult victims of domestic violence from further violence by exercising their broad authority to craft custody and visitation orders tailored to the particular safety needs of the child(ren) and adult victim. Courts also play a key role in overseeing continuous improvement of service to the public. In particular, judges can ensure that the court system works in collaboration with the other  partners in the development and implementation process; educate the core partners and community about how the court system works, in particular, family law, custody and visitation, and protection order cases; and seek out education opportunities to ensure they are making appropriate and safe custody and visitation arrangements in cases involving domestic violence.

Case Law, Law, and Policy Information

  • Case Law on Supervised Visitation or Exchange Issues in Cases Involving Domestic Violence by Emilie Meyer on behalf of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (2011). This document provides an overview of supervised visitation and domestic violence cases published in the last three years. Read this overview
  • Judicial Ethics Advisory Opinions by Emilie Meyer on behalf of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (2011). This document provides an overview of judicial ethics advisory opinions specific to supervised visitation issues. Read this overview
  • Laws Pertaining to Supervised Visitation and Exchange prepared by Emilie Meyer on behalf of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (2011). This document provides an overview of state laws containing supervised visitation provisions and provisions that protect against abduction, provisions authorizing the establishment of supervised visitation centers, and provisions mandating domestic violence training for supervised visitation providers. Read this overview
  • National Judicial Institute on Domestic Violence (NJIDV) is a dynamic partnership among the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women, Futures Without Violence, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges that provides highly interactive, skills-based domestic violence workshops for judges and judicial officers nationwide. Since 1999, NJIDV has offered education programs for judges from around the country, helping them develop or enhance their skills in handling a wide range of criminal and civil cases involving domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse, and stalking. Visit the NJIDV website
  • The Troubling Admission of Supervised Visitation Records in Custody Proceedings by Nat Stern and Karen Oehme (2002). This article argues that the widespread misuse of visitation reports threatens to compromise both the interests of abused children and the safety of domestic violence victims. It explores the purposes of supervised visitation programs and the legal community’s call for their development; describes the efforts of legislatures and provider networks to develop standards and guidelines for the administration of supervised visitation services; addresses issues surrounding the use and admissibility of observation reports and other reporting tools routinely kept by supervised visitation programs; and proposes a standard limiting the circumstances under which courts may admit program records into evidence in custody proceedings. Read this article

  • Juvenile and Family Court Journal, Family Violence Issue, Vol. 61, No. 4 by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (Fall 2010). This third special issue on family violence showcases cutting-edge research and emerging trends in the field in the areas of child protection and custody. This issue features articles on adolescent partner violence and the legal system’s response, stalking and technological implications for safety, judicial responses to elder abuse, current research and emerging legislative trends involving men who use violence, integrated domestic violence dockets, and child custody jurisdiction and enforcement in cases involving domestic violence. Read this journal
  • Model Code on Domestic and Family Violence by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (1994). The Model Code was drafted by a multi-disciplinary Advisory Committee comprised of judges, battered women’s advocates, attorneys, law enforcement officers, and other professionals. The five chapters of the Model Code include General Provisions, Criminal Penalties and Procedures, Civil Orders for Protection, Family and Children, and Prevention and Treatment. Read the Model Code

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Custody and Visitation Information

  • Abusive Men’s Use of Children to Control Their Partners and Ex-Partners by Marisa L. Beeble, Deborah Bybee, and Cris M. Sullivan in Vol. 12, No. 1 of European Psychologist (2007). This study represents the first step in examining both the extent to which, and the various ways by which, abusive men use children to control and terrorize their partners. Read this abstract
  • A Judicial Guide to Child Safety in Custody Cases by Hon. Jerry J. Bowles, Hon. Kaye K. Christian, Margaret B. Drew, and Katheryn L. Yetter on behalf of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (2008). This publication contains 14 bench cards that provide an easy-to-use checklist system for judges at critical decision-making points through a custody case. It also includes a supplemental guide that provides additional information about in- and out-of-court behaviors, best interest of the child, and order issuance and enforcement. Read this bench tool
  • Children Exposed to Domestic Violence: Making Trauma-Informed Custody and Visitation Decisions by Patricia Van Horn and Betsy McAlister Groves in Vol. 57, No. 1 of the Juvenile and Family Court Journal (2007). This article explores the risks for young children and the challenges for courts that emerge when parents who are victims or perpetrators of intimate partner violence seek court decisions on child visitation or custody matters. Read this article
  • Custody Disputes Involving Allegations of Domestic Violence: Toward a Differentiated Approach to Parenting Plans by Peter G. Jaffe, Janet R. Johnston, Claire V. Crooks, and Nicholas Bala in Vol. 46, No. 3 of Family Court Review (2008). This article proposes a series of parenting plans, with criteria and guidelines for usage depending upon differential screening and ranging from highly restricted access arrangements to relatively unrestricted arrangements. Implications for practice are considered within the context of available resources. Read this article
  • Mental Illness and Domestic Violence: Implications for Family Law Litigation by Denice Wolf Markham in the Journal of Law and Policy (May-June 2003). This article gives some background on the issues facing this client population; discusses confidentiality, privilege, and strategies for dealing with treatment and evaluative evidence in preparing the case; and offers ideas for system advocacy with regard to mental illness in the family law system. Read this article

  • Civil Protection Orders: A Guide for Improving Practice by Emilie Meyer on behalf of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (2010). This publication, known as the CPO Guide, is designed to support the work of professionals dedicated to enhancing the effectiveness of the civil protection order process. It provides guidance for advocates, attorneys, judges, law enforcement personnel, and prosecutors to help ensure that protection orders are effectively issued, served, and enforced across the country. Read this guide
  • Conceptualizing Visitation Resistance and Refusal in the Context of Parental Conflict, Separation, and Divorce by Benjamin D. Garber in Vol. 45, No. 4 of the Family Court Review (2007). This article proposes a child-centered, developmentally informed heuristic with which forensic evaluators might begin to more uniformly approach the potential causes of and remedies for visitation resistance. Read this article
  • Full Faith and Credit: A Passport to Safety, A Judge’s Guide by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (VAWA 2005 Edition, 2010). This publication, known as Passport to Safety, is designed to facilitate the efforts of states, tribes, and territories to implement the Full Faith and Credit Provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Since its initial printing in 1999, VAWA has been amended twice – once in 2000 and again in 2005. This version reflects the 2005 amendments and expands Passport to Safety from its original issuing and enforcing bench cards to include two new subject-area cards: one on firearms and one on custody, visitation, and support provisions within protection orders. Read this bench card
  • If I Killed You, I’d Get the Kids: Women’s Survival and Protection Work with Child Custody and Access in the Context of Woman Abuse by Colleen Varcoe and Lori G. Irwin in Vol. 27, No. 1 of Qualitative Sociology (2004). This article discusses how child custody and access processes provide opportunities for abusive partners to exert power and control over their partners and children and discusses how these opportunities are often supported by policies and practices of service providers. Read this article
  • Litigation Abuse During the Pretrial Process by Hon. JerryJ. Bowles, Hon. Kaye K. Christian, Margaret B. Drew, and Katheryn L. Yetter, on behalf of the National Council for Juvenile and Family Court Judges, in A Judge’s Guide to Safety in Child Custody Cases (2008). This section is devoted to litigation abuse by abusive parents. It identifies the abusive litigation techniques used by abusive parents as a means to control the non-abusive parent and outlines steps judges can take to curtail and end this coercive and controlling tactic. Read this section
  • Navigating Custody and Visitation Evaluations in Cases with Domestic Violence: A Judge’s Guide by Clare Dalton, Leslie M. Drozd, and Hon. Frances Q.F. Wong on behalf of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (2004, revised 2006). This publication serves as a practical guide for judges on how to interpret and act on professional child custody evaluations when domestic violence is involved in family law cases. It includes four bench cards and supplementary material that are intended to guide a judge chronologically through the custody evaluation process. Read this guide
  • Parenting Arrangements After Domestic Violence: Safety as a Priority in Judging Children’s Best Interest by Peter G. Jaffe, Claire V. Crooks, and Hon. Frances Q.F. Wong in Vol. 6 of the Journal of the Center for Families, Children & the Courts (2005). This article discusses some of the controversies surrounding parent-child access and provides practical guidelines within a clinical and legal context. Read this article
  • Questions About Family Court Domestic Violence Screening and Assessment by Loretta Frederick in Vol. 46, No. 3 of the Family Court Review (2008). This article raises a number of questions about family courts screening for domestic violence and urges that these questions be addressed by courts and communities that are considering whether and how to design a screening protocol. Read this article
  • Shared Parenting After Abuse: Battered Mothers’ Perspectives on Parenting After Dissolution of a Relationship by Carolyn Tubbs and Oliver Williams in Parenting by Men Who Batter: New Directions for Assessment and Intervention (2007). This chapter focuses on the question: what types of shared parenting expectations do battered women have in reference to the men with whom they have a shared history of violence? Read this chapter
  • Visits in Cases Marked by Violence: Judicial Actions that Can Help Keep Children and Victims Safe by Julie Kunce Field in Vol. 35, No. 3 of Court Review (Fall 1998). This article discusses some of the methods available to courts to fashion visitation orders that can ensure safety for children and the victim parent and identifies new developments in the area of supervised visitation in family law cases. Read this article

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Domestic Violence Information

  • Intimate Partner Violence in Immigrant and Refugee Communities: Challenges, Promising Practices, and Recommendations by Michael Runner et al., Futures Without Violence (2009). This report examines the issue of intimate partner violence in immigrant and refugee communities in the United States from a variety of standpoints, including the legal rights and practical challenges facing immigrant and refugee victims of violence, the ways systems are responding, and the promising practices. Read this report
  • It’s In Their Culture: Fairness and Cultural Considerations in Domestic Violence by Sujata Warrier in Vol. 46, No. 3 of the Family Court Review (2008). This essay develops a critical framework on the issue of culture and provides specific ways in which a more nuanced understanding of culture is helpful for court personnel as they grapple with how to work with a diverse population. Read this essay
  • Substance Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence by Larry Bennett and Patricia Bland, National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women (2008). This paper discusses the co-occurrence of substance abuse and intimate partner violence, highlights the special role of men’s drunkenness in intimate partner violence, examines substance abuse by victims of intimate partner violence, and presents issues related to coordination and integration of substance abuse and intimate partner violence services. Read this paper
  • The Parenting of Men Who Batter by Lundy Bancroft in Court Review: The Journal of the American Judges Association (Summer 2002). This article discusses the parenting characteristics commonly observed in batterers and the implications for children’s emotional and physical well-being, their relationships with their mothers and siblings, and the development of their belief systems. Read this article
  • Understanding Women’s Experiences Parenting in the Context of Domestic Violence: Implications for Community and Court-Related Service Providers by Peter G. Jaffe and Claire V. Crooks, Violence Against Women Online Resources (2005). This paper identifies and discusses seven central themes that highlight the intersection between women abuse and parenting. Specific implications and recommendations for community and court service providers are offered. Read this paper

  • Assessing Risk Factors for Intimate Partner Homicide by Jacquelyn C. Campbell et al, National Institute of Justice Journal (2003). This study of the Danger Assessment Tool finds that despite certain limitations, the tool can, with some reliability, identify women who may be at risk of being killed by an intimate partner. Read this study
  • Conceptualizing Trauma and Resilience Across Diverse Contexts by Pratyusha Tummala-Narra in Vol. 14, No. 1 of the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma (2007). This article provides a multicultural understanding of trauma and resilience as experienced in the lives of individuals from diverse cultural and racial backgrounds. Read this article
  • Differentiation Among Types of Intimate Partner Violence by Joan B. Kelly and Michael P. Johnson in Vol. 46, No. 3 of Family Court Review (2008). This article discusses the value of differentiation among types of intimate partner violence, describes the underlying reasons for the confusion and controversy regarding gender and violence, and focuses on research that supports differentiation. Read this article
  • Intersection of Disability, Diversity, and Domestic Violence: Results of National Focus Groups by Elizabeth Lightfoot and Oliver Williams in Vol. 18, No. 2 of the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma (2009). This article examines the unique issues faced by people with physical and sensory disabilities in accessing help for domestic violence, with a particular emphasis on the experiences of people of color with disabilities. Read this article
  • National Judicial Education Program (NJEP): Sexual Assault Resources. Understanding Sexual Violence is the overarching title of the materials Legal Momentum’s NJEP has developed to educate the judicial, legal, and criminal justice communities, as well as society at large, about sexual assault. These materials explore how rape and sexual assault cases can be handled so as to minimize re-traumatization of victims without undermining defendants' constitutional rights. View these materials
  • Violence Against Immigrant Women: The Roles of Culture, Context, and Legal Immigrant Status on Intimate Partner Violence by Anita Raj and Jay Silverman in Vol. 8, No. 3 of Violence Against Women (2001). This article reviews the research literature and finds that the little data that exist demonstrates that immigrant women’s cultures, contexts, and legal status (a) increase vulnerability for abuse, (b) are used by batterers to control and abuse immigrant women, and (c) create barriers to women seeking and receiving help. Read this article
  • Violence Against Women with Mental Illness by the Council of State Governments Justice Center (2007). This report reviews existing literature on mental illness and victimization; provides information on relevant mental health or victim service programs and resources; and recommends research, methods of developing policy and programs, and types of training and education to improve services for this population. Read this report

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Supervised Visitation and Exchange Information

  • Forging a Collaboration Between Courts and Supervised Visitation Centers by the National Judicial Institute on Domestic Violence (1999). This judicial training tool explores two key questions: what role does the supervised visitation center have in addressing domestic violence and how can the court and other collaborative partners facilitate the center’s fulfillment of this role? Read this tool
  • Guiding Principles of the Safe Havens: Supervised Visitation and Safe Exchange Grant Program by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice (2007). This resource was created to guide the development and administration of Safe Havens: Supervised Visitation and Safe Exchange Grant Program (Supervised Visitation Program) centers with an eye toward addressing the needs of children and adult victims of domestic violence in visitation and exchange settings. The Guiding Principles look beyond the visitation and exchange setting to address how communities funded under the Supervised Visitation Program can address domestic violence in the larger community. Read the Guiding Principles
  • Referrals to Supervised Visitation Programs: A Manual for Florida’s Judges by M. Sharon Maxwell and Karen Oehme on behalf of the Clearinghouse on Supervised Visitation (2004). This manual is designed to assist courts in making safe and effective use of supervised visitation programs and in understanding the abilities and limitations of supervised visitation program staff and volunteers. It contains seven chapters: The Evolution of Supervised Visitation; A Framework for Judicial Referrals; Supervised Visitation in Domestic Violence Cases; Child Sexual Abuse Referrals to Supervised Visitation Programs; Judicial Communication with Supervised Visitation Programs; Ancillary Services and Orders Allowing the Presence of Additional Professionals at Visits; and Special Considerations. Read this manual
  • Supervised Visitation: What Courts Should Know when Working with Supervised Visitation Programs by Samantha Moore and Kathryn Ford on behalf of the Center for Court Innovation (2006). This paper highlights a number of practices used by supervised visitation programs and the courts. It is intended for judges, court administrators, and their community partners in an effort to reduce the risk of violence for survivors and their children. While implementing all of the suggestions in this paper may be difficult, this paper aims to give courts and programs a framework for ongoing coordination. Read this paper
  • Survey of Judicial Practices Regarding Florida’s Supervised Visitation Programs by Sharon Maxwell, Linda Vinton, and Karen Oehme on behalf of the Clearinghouse on Supervised Visitation (2003). During the last decade, there was a rapid growth in the number and use of supervised visitation programs in Florida. Due to increasing reliance on supervised visitation programs, Florida’s Task Force for Children’s Justice asked for data on the practices of Florida’s judges in terms of their utilization of supervised visitation programs. This report gives the results of the survey of judicial practices concerning supervised visitation programs throughout the state of Florida. Read this report