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The role of parental communication, child's wishes and child's gender in social workers' custody recommendations

Hani Nouman, Guy Enosh and Pnina Niselbaum-Atzur

Children and Youth Services Review, 2016, vol. 70, issue C, 302-308

Abstract: Social-workers' custody recommendations are influenced by professional and personal factors. In this study, we examine three factors: parental-communication, child's-wishes, and child's-gender. An experimental-survey-design was implemented, using case-descriptions, as well as professional-characteristic of the social-workers. Data were collected from 120 Israeli social-workers. The study findings reveal that interparental communication plays a significant role in the social worker's decision. Whereas deficient interparental communication leads to bias in the decision to award parental custody according to the parent's gender, with a preference for the mother over the father, as hypothesized, intact interparental communication increases the likelihood of joint custody, but still gives preference to the mother. Social workers tend to consider the children's wishes as long as their preference is for maternal custody. When children express a paternal preference, their wishes carry no weight. Furthermore, child's gender does not influence social workers' parental custody recommendation. In cases where the preference for sole maternal custody may appear as biased or untoward, a preference was awarded to joint-custody rather than to paternal-custody. The findings highlight that traditional-social-norms impact social-worker's decision. We emphasize the importance organizational mechanisms and standards that provide more efficient and egalitarian decision-making.

Keywords: Custody; Decision making; Parents communication; Child wishes; Professional judgement; Maternal bias (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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