The Influence of Divorcing Mothers' Demeanor on Custody Evaluators' Assessment of Their Domestic Violence Allegations

Jennifer L. Hardesty, Jason D. Hans, Megan L. Haselschwerdt, Lyndal Khaw, Kimberly A. Crossman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


A gap exists between empirical evidence demonstrating the risks posed by domestic violence (DV) and the weight that evidence is given by custody evaluators. This gap may result from common beliefs about DV that diminish or deny its seriousness, which include that mothers often make false allegations to gain advantage and that DV and high conflict are synonymous and do not require differential approaches. Using a multiple segment factorial vignette design, we systematically assessed how these beliefs influenced custody evaluators' (N = 603) recommendations and judgments of the believability of allegations. Mother's demeanor (i.e., hostile vs. pleasant) was the most consistent predictor of evaluators' recommendations and judgments of credibility. Findings have implications for providing research-based education and training for evaluators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-70
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Child Custody
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2015



  • beliefs
  • child custody evaluation
  • divorce
  • domestic violence
  • false allegations

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