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Study finds fathers often favored in child custody disputes

Some people in Kentucky may assume that in a custody battle between parents, the mother always gets preference over the father. However, research conducted by a professor from the George Washington University Law School suggests that this is not the case. The professor examined 2,000 child custody cases that involved parental alienation, child abuse and domestic violence. The professor found that a mother's claim of child abuse was never substantiated in court if the father's claim of parental alienation was accepted.

Furthermore, if the mother says that sexual abuse has occurred and the father says that there has been parental alienation, courts substantiate sexual abuse in just 1 out of 51 cases. This happens even though parental alienation remains a controversial concept. A situation in which a parent tries to turn a child against the other parent, it is often treated as a widespread problem in some courts even though research from the psychiatrist who advanced it has never been recognized by certain bodies, such as the American Medical Association.

The Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence says that roughly 58,000 children annually are placed or allowed unsupervised visitation with an abusive parent. Parents may spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees. In response, the state of Maryland is looking at ways to integrate empirical research into its courtroom decision-making for child custody cases involving abuse.

Other issues may arise in custody disputes, such as concerns about child abduction. Parents may want to discuss these concerns with an attorney since it may be possible to take steps to reduce the likelihood that they will happen. However, in many cases, parents may be able to negotiate a schedule for child custody and visitation without going to court. This may allow them more flexibility to create a plan that works best for them and their children.

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