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PSYC 3310 (79)

Ch. 13: Child Custody Decisions

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York University
PSYC 3310
Gwen Jenkins

Ch. 13: Child Custody Decisions Tuesday, June 12, 201:00 PM ChildCustodyDecisions ChildCustodyandAccessin Canada - Custody: Right… ○ ...of child to have relationships with both parents ○ ...of custodial parent(s) to make major decisions about child's health, education, and religion ○ …to physical care of child - Access: right… ○ ...of non-custodial parent to make inquiries, and be given information, in terms of health, education, and welfare of child ○ "some" physical time with child ChildCustodyin Canada - Four types: 1. Sole Custody-- only one parent has custody of child 2. Joint Custody-- both parents share custody (not necessarily physical custody) of child 3. Shared Custody-- both parents have joint custody AND physical custody (at least 40% of time) of child [no child support] 4. Split Custody -- rare-- each parent has custody over someof the children - Primary or Principal Residence/Caregiver ○ Primary/principal residence is where the child spends mostof his/her time ○ Primary/principal caregiver is the parent who has physical control of the child mostof the time  i.e., makes decisions regarding day-to-day care Standardsfor Resolution - Pre-1900s, only men (fathers) had a right to legal status and to own property ○ Children were deemed to be property and assigned to the custody of father - By early 1900s, mothers were believed to make better caregivers & the child was generally placed in her custody ○ Based on Tender-YearsDoctrine(now abolished)  Presumed best interests of young children and girls were best served by mother - ~1970, BestInterests of theChildStandard (BICS) ○ Neither mother nor father entitled to custody ○ Needs of parents secondary to interests of child ○ Goal-- to place child in "best" environment;  Health and emotional well-being  Love, affection, & ties between child & others  Education  Capacity of custodian to care for child Problemof BICS - BICS is vague-- judges given great latitude to evaluate "best" environment ○ Ask: how do they evaluate who will provide best care, education, emotional well-being, etc? Can judges put aside personal opinion? ○ Can judges put aside personal opinion?  Mixed-race cases □ e.g., Palmore v. Sidoti (1984) [not a landmark case]  Homosexual parents □ e.g., Boswell v. Boswell (1998) WhoGetsCustody? - Custody usually granted to parent who asks for it ○ In case of dispute, Court makes a custody order in best interests of child - Access-- only refused in cases of parental abuse-- generally supervised access granted - Courts currently favor joint [or shared] custody unless harmful to child. Why…? WhyJointCustody? 1. Children benefit from maintaining relationships with both parents(?) 2. Encourages fathers to pay child support(?) 3. Thought to reduce conflict between parents(?) ○ Research results mixed  Strains "psychological parenting"  Joint custody does little to reduce parental conflict  Children have hard time shuttling between parents' homes TheIntensityof ChildCustodyDisputes - According to Lenore Walker, child custody cases require more skills than other areas of forensic psychology - Child custody cases can provoke intense feelings… both parents want custody/do not want the other parent to have custody - Can lead to child abductions… ChildAbductions - 2001: 387 (parental) child abductions in Canada - 1996: 1,000 attempted or completed abductions, two-thirds parental, one-third non-parental - Parents who kidnap: ○ Have strong ties with their children ○ View the other parent as incompetent, ○ Doubt the ability of child protection agencies or courts to render "justice" - Men
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