Child Custody

A Judge’s Guide: Making Child-Centered Decisions in Custody Cases, Second Edition

The Project was instrumental in producing the second edition of A Judge’s Guide: Making Child Centered Decisions in Custody Cases, which will assist all family court judges in ensuring the well-being of the children in their courtrooms by providing invaluable information on:

  • Managing the contested child custody case.
  • Representation for the child in complex custody cases.
  • Understanding child and youth development to minimize the negative impact of divorce and separation on children and their families.
  • Evaluating the parent-child relationship, parenting impairments, and parenting skills.
  • Determining the types of mental health, home study, and other evaluations needed when making child custody decisions.
  • Selecting appropriate professionals to conduct assessments.
  • Considering complex issues such as supervised visitation, relocation, alleged domestic violence or sexual abuse, third party claims, and joint custody.

The entire second edition is available as a free download through this link[7].


The Project developed a six-hour video training series, accompanied by a 700-plus page manual. This is a multi-disciplinary training program. This training applies to attorneys serving as either the Child’s Attorney or the Best Interest Attorney in divorce, adoption, guardianship, unmarried parents’ cases and civil orders of protection. The training and materials may be viewed through the links below. The topics and speakers in the series are:

  • Case Development with Stacey Platt, JD, Loyola Law School Professor;
  • Cultural Competence with Suzette Speight, PhD, Loyola University Professor of Education;
  • Ethical Issues with Gregg Herman, JD, Milwaukee, Wisconsin;
  • Child Development with Kathryn Shands, MD, Child and Adolescent Psychologist, Atlanta, Georgia;
  • Hearing the Voice of the Child with Risa Garon, LCSW, Director, The Children of Separation and Divorce Center and Keith Schiszik, JD, Maryland;
  • Mental Health Experts, Tests & Services with Robin Deutsch, PhD, Co-Director, Children and the Law Program, Boston, Massachusetts;
  • Domestic Violence with Leigh Goodmark, JD; Child Abuse with Ann Haralambie, JD, Tucson, Arizona; and
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution with Kelly Browe Olson, JD, LLM, University of Arkansas, Alternative Dispute Resolution Clinic Director.

ABA Child Custody Pro Bono Project Training April 2007

  1. Introduction – Case Development – Cultural Competence[9] (Windows Media Player File, 1:36:07, 185 Mb)
  2. Ethical Issues – Child Development[10] (Windows Media Player File, 1:13:22, 141 Mb)
  3. Hearing the Voice of the Child – Mental Health Experts – Domestic Violence[11] (Windows Media Player File, 1:34:52, 188 Mb)
  4. Child Abuse – Alternative Dispute Resolution – CLE Information[12] (Windows Media Player File, 1:09:25, 144 Mb)
  5. Training Materials[13] (PDF File, 51 Mb)


The Child Custody and Adoption Pro Bono Project awarded $50,000 to programs and projects working to bring people together to develop pro bono child representation programs in private custody cases. 2008 Grants Announcement[14].

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