Monday, May 29, 2006

Wallerstein is no authority

A reader sends this quote from p.192 of What About the Kids? Raising Your Children Before, During, and After Divorce by Judith S. Wallerstein, Sandra Blakeslee, a 2003 book:
While it's not a substitute for a reasonably well-functioning intact family, joint custody does more closely approximate the intact family by providing ongong contact with both parents, although separately. What's more, it captures the new wave of fathers who appreciate how important they are to their children. ...
There is no scientific evidence that the general psychological adjustment of children is related to any particular form of custody.
An Amazon review says:
Be careful of Wallerstein's work, February 26, 2004

Judith Wallerstein has been amicus curiae (a friend of the court) in many custody related cases but she is certainly no friend of children who would like to have both parents in their lives.

Her research, which was presented in a pivotal custody case in California (In re: Marriage of Burgess), was very influential in the court's decision. That decision has been widely criticized and has led to countless children in the state growing up without one of their parents, usually the father. In recent amicus curiae briefs filed by Wallerstein she relies heavily on anecdotal accounts of cases in which she played no part and disregards substantial amounts of literature that highlight the harmful impact of the loss of important relationships to a child and shows that children do much better with two loving, competent parents. She has even contradicted herself on positions that she originally took in the Burgess case.

Her research has been widely criticized in recent years and this book will likely be no exception.
What is weird is that Wallerstein frequently gets cited as some sort of authority for the view that shared child custody is somehow bad. A RI state supreme court opinion cited Wallerstein's Burgess brief for the proposition that "social science research on custody does not support the presumption that frequent and continuing access to both parents is in the child's best interests; therefore a parent with primary physical custody generally should be able to relocate with the child".

The Amazon reviewer is correct. She has caused a lot of harm, and she is no authority against shared parenting. Some of her more recent statements favor shared parenting.

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