This study has three specific aims:
- To describe the prevalence of legal representation of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) victims among married, heterosexual couples undergoing marriage dissolution involving children during an eleven-year period in a population-based sample (separately by whether that representation was by a legal aid attorney or a private attorney).
- To estimate the effect of legal representation of IPV victims among married, heterosexual couples undergoing marriage dissolution involving children during an eleven-year period in a population-based sample (separately by whether that representation was by a legal aid attorney or a private attorney) on child custody and visitation outcomes including the proportion of couples for whom: 1) visitation is denied to the abusing parent, 2) supervised visitation between the abusing parent and the child(ren) is ordered, 3) restrictions are placed on the abusing parent's child visitation, 4) treatment program completion is a prerequisite to the abusing parent's child visitation, and 5) sole decision-making is awarded to the non-IPV-abusing parent.
- To estimate the effect of legal representation on the following set of secondary outcomes: 1) post-dissolution child custody and visitation disputes, 2) court order of professional supervision of visitation, 3) court order that future dispute resolution to be conducted only through the court, 4) prohibition of overnight visitation by the abusing parent, 5) formal court findings of IPV, 6) post-decree child custody/visitation disputes, and 7) primary residential parent status is awarded to the abusing parent (adverse outcome).
A retrospective cohort study was conducted among King County couples with minor children filing for marriage dissolution in King County, Washington between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2010 who had a history of police or court documented intimate partner violence (IPV).
Propensity score methodology was incorporated into the sampling design to assure balance between study groups on important covariates. All potential study subjects were identified through the use of existing computerized court data on marriage dissolutions involving children filed in King County, Washington during the study period. Data from several sources were linked using names and dates of birth of the divorcing parties to identify a history of IPV: 1. Seattle Police Department (SPD) data on police-reported incidents of IPV; 2. King County court filings of civil protection orders; and 3. King County court filings of criminal no contact orders.
The projected study sample consisted of King County couples with minor, dependent children petitioning for dissolution of marriage and with a documented history of police- or court-reported, male-perpetrated IPV. Specifically, all such cases filed within the KCSC system in Seattle or Kent, Washington between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2010 as identified from the OAC Superior Court Management Information System (SCOMIS) database, comprised the initial eligible pool from which the study sample was drawn.
Using propensity score matching, the study matched both civil paid and pro bono/legal aid represented cases 1:1 with comparison group subjects (comparison group n=750) for a total sample size of 1,500 cases.
King County, Washington couples with minor children who filed for marriage dissolution within the King County Superior Court (KCSC) between January 1, 2000 and December 21, 2010.
Dataset ad_pr_dec(n=3079) with 284 variables consisting of questions about children such as abuse, abandonment, injury, neglect, inappropriate sexual behavior, abuse-related medical treatment. It has variables pertaining to Intimate Partner violence (IPV), for example, stalking, abuse, kidnapping, criminal involvement, IPV-related medical issues, IPV-related injury, threats of harm, sexual behavior. It also has questions related to marriage and parenting such as anger management, employment status, parenting classes, supervised visitation.
Dataset legal_rep_main (n=1607) with 580 variables contains questions about violence, such as IPV abuse, child abuse, child witnessing abuse. It also has issues in the case, including allegations of abuse, appointment of a GAL/CASA, need for a family evaluation, need for an interpreter and mediation. There were questions pertaining to the divorce settlement and findings such as protection order, fees, spousal maintenance, transfer payments, tax exemptions, anger management, visitation, and child support. There were also variables about violence, injuries, and illness, such as suicide, threats, harm, police incidents, guns and weapons, and drug violations.
Dataset cinjspec (n=186) with 10 variables consisting of questions about child abuse injuries, such as allegations and substantiations by father and mother.
Injuries noted consisted of bruises, fractures, head trauma, burns, and sexual abuse.
Dataset cothspec (n=4579) with 10 variables consisting of data pertaining to other child abuse, for example substantiated by the father and mother.
Dataset criminvspec (n=903) with 10 variables consisting questions about criminal involvement of the mother and father, specifically drug and alcohol crimes, violent crimes, and non0violent crimes.
Dataset ctxspec (n=30) with 10 variables consisting of data about child abuse-related medical treatment required, such as Chiropractor, urgent care visit, hospitalization, sexual abuse evaluation, and visit to physician or dentist.
Dataset mhothspec (n=286) with 10 variables consisting of questions about other mental health issues, such as witholding/interfering with the other parent's visitation, wrongful incrimination resulting in loss of contact with children, and interfering with a 911 call.
Dataset othmispec (n=870) with 10 variables consists of topics about mental illness of the mother and father,
for example mood disorder, Schizophrenia, personality disorder, anxiety disorder, adjustment disorder, and eating disorder.
Dataset othospec (n=726) with 10 variables consisting of questions about emotional abuse of people outside the family.
Dataset pinjspec (n=479) with 10 variables containing information about partner abuses resulting in bruises, contusions, and fractures.
Dataset pothspec (n=1550) with 10 variables consisting of information about partner abuse, such as domestic violence, IPV property crime, and custody-related threats.
Dataset pr_othrecspec (n=286) with 6 variables consisting of professional recommendations towards the mother and father, for example that they follow psychological and medical management plans and comply with protective orders.
Dataset ptxspec (n=130) with 10 variables containing questions about types of IPV-related medical treatments like urgent care visits, hospitalization, and surgery.
Study involved existing data and abstraction from existing court case files. 100% of sampled cases were included.