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Influence of Child and Family Factors on Judicial Decisions in Contested Custody Cases

Sara R. Wallace and Susan Silverberg Koerner
Family Relations
Vol. 52, No. 2 (Apr., 2003), pp. 180-188
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3700221
Page Count: 9
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Influence of Child and Family Factors on Judicial Decisions in Contested Custody Cases
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Abstract

To explore how child and family factors influence judicial decision making in contested custody cases, 18 family court judges participated in a semistructured interview that tapped (a) child and family factors considered relevant in determining child custody and (b) how these factors influence custody decisions. Judges cited a variety of factors as being influential, including the child's age and developmental status, the child's wishes regarding the custody arrangement, the child's stability, parental fitness, the history of the parent-child relationships, which parent has been the primary caregiver, each parent's willingness to foster the child's relationship with the other parent, and extrafamilial support. Results from a content analysis reflect the manner in which these factors influence judicial decision making. Emergent themes were identified based on four overarching factors.

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