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International law permits abusive fathers custody of children, study finds

Jeffrey EdlesonSchool of Social Work Professor Jeffrey Edleson is co-author of a newly released study about battered women who become involved in legal disputes under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

The study shows that when women living abroad left their abusive partners and returned with their children to the United States, in half of the cases, U.S. courts sent the children back, usually to their fathers. The authors of the study, the Hague Domestic Violence Survey, want to help to establish domestic violence as a factor in whether courts send children back to their fathers.

"The social science literature is clear that child exposure to domestic violence against a parent represents a potentially grave risk to that child's physical and psychological well-being," said Edleson, who is also director of the Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse. "Judges and attorneys need to recognize this in Hague Convention proceedings. And social service professionals need to understand these dynamics and the international treaty to better serve battered women and children with whom they work." Read the full UMNews release or the story in TIME online.

On Dec. 10, the day of the study's release, the findings were presented in a unique continuing education event at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Approximately 500 people attended the live program at the Guthrie, and another 822 joined via webcast from all over the world. Thomson Reuters Web site will have a recording of the webcast available for free viewing for the next three months.

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