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Journal Issue: Children and Divorce Volume 4 Number 1 Spring/Summer 1994

The Determination of Child Custody
Joan B. Kelly

Judicial Education

With the latitude given to judges under the "best interests of the child" statutes for custody decision making, judicial education in basic child development concepts becomes extremely important. While judges in some jurisdictions receive specific case law and procedural training when they move onto the family law bench, few receive education that would enable them to make appropriate decisions regarding developmentally sensitive visiting or custody plans for children of different ages.62,71 Curricula including information about attachment, separation anxiety, continuity in relationships, and children's needs during and after divorce with particular emphasis on the implications of such concepts and data for judicial decision making are necessary to achieve more uniformity and quality in judicial orders. Panels of neutral developmental/clinical consultants should be available to judges to explore with them the particular developmental and research issues raised by difficult custody cases so that the judiciary has a defensible, reasoned basis for making decisions.