SAFeR Approach to Decision Making in Domestic Related Child Custody Disputes

SAFeR can be used by anyone, including parties, in any family court proceeding. SAFeR consists of the following four parts:

1. Screening for IPV

The first step is to determine whether IPV is an issue in the case. 

Screening for IPV must be safe. Parties must be informed about the potential risks of talking about IPV. They need to know why they are being asked about abuse, how the information will be used, who will have access to it, and where it might show up later. 

2. Assessing the Nature and Context of IPV

Once IPV is identified, practitioners need to know more specifically who is doing what to whom and why. And, in the context of a family law case, it is important to know what is going on with respect to parenting and the health, safety and wellbeing of the children, as well as the parent who is subjected to abuse. 

3. Focus on the Effects of IPV

The third step asks whether and how the abuse matters for the task or decision at hand. For instance, how does the abuse impact parenting arrangements in a custody case? How does the abuse impact safety in a protection order case? How does abuse impact negotiations in mediation?

4. Respond to IPV

The fourth step focuses on addressing and correcting, if possible, the problems that the abuse is creating. The idea is to appropriately respond to the parties’ experience of abuse.  

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