Response from Professor Exline

Marc–please see my responses after the *** below. –Julie

Julie J. Exline, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
Case Western Reserve University
11220 Bellflower Cleveland, Ohio 44106-7123

—– Original Message —–

From: “Marc S.” < … >

Date: Friday, March 18, 2005 3:53 pm

Subject: Child custody as entitlement

> Hi Professor Exline,

> Thanks so much for speaking with me by phone. I recognize that your field of expertise does not include legal issues, however, it seems very clear to me that the sense of entitlement provided through the operation of family law to one parent (as opposed to the other) in child custody cases does map directly to your expertise.

> I’d like to present the following two models, including certain stipulations of fact, and then ask you to respond, in light of your expertise and extensive related research, to several questions. You may answer the questions briefly, or with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, or at any length you’d like.

> The term separated is not used below as a legal term. It is instead used to represent the physical parting of the parents. It is unimportant, for this specific model, which of the parents initiated the separation. There is no need for you to comment on the stipulations provided below. The only need is for you to understand that the stipulations are provided as fact, and thus to incorporate and correlate those stipulations with your responses to the questions in light of your expertise. It is also stipulated for both models below that both parents are normal average adults who do not fall outside the norms of typical behavior for American society.

> MODEL 1

> The following stipulations apply to this model of a two parent, one child family, which has recently separated and will require a judgement of custody to be made by a third party:

> 1) There is no stated presumption of equality between Parent A and Parent B.

> 2) Parent A, due to some factor (in this case gender) is very likely, statistically (as in 80%-90% likelihood) to receive custody of the child.

> 3) Parent B is very likely, statistically (as in 80%-90%), to NOT receive custody of the child.

> 4) Both Parent A and parent B have knowledge that the stipulations above are true.

> 5) Neither Parent A or Parent B have engaged in any behavior, historically, that endangers the child in any way.

> 6) Mediation, compromise, or negotiation (any or all of the 3) by the parents, or with an objective and unbiased 3rd party, is available without restriction if both parents agree to participate.

> Question: On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being the least likely and 10 being most likely), how likely is it that parent A will agree to mediate, negotiate or compromise in good faith?

** Of course, this depends on many factors such as personality and amount of anger at other parent. I can’t give exact stats, but I would say that Parent B would be more open to mediation, negotiation, or compromise in good faith than Parent A. This would be because Parent A is operating from the higher-power position and might feel entitled to custody of the child. If s/he feels entitled to custody, why bother to negotiate, which would only increase the cost/risk to self?

> Question: On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being the least likely and 10 being most likely), how likely is it that parent B will agree to mediate, negotiate or compromise in good faith?

** see answer above

> —————

> MODEL 2

> The following stipulations apply to this model of a two parent, one child family, which has recently separated and will require a judgement of custody to be made by a third party:

> 1) There is a stated presumption of equality, though rebuttable (changeable), for Parent A and parent B.

> 2) Parent A has a statistical likelihood that is not known of receiving custody of the child.

> 3) Parent B also has a statistical likelihood that is unknown of receiving custody of the child.

> 4) Both Parent A and parent B have knowledge that the stipulations above are true.

> 5) Neither Parent A or Parent B have engaged in any behavior, historically, that endangers the child in any way.

> 6) Mediation, compromise, or negotiation (any or all of the 3) by the parents, or with an objective and unbiased 3rd party, is available without restriction if both parents agree to participate.

> Question: On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being the least likely and 10 being most likely), how likely is it that parent A will agree to mediate, negotiate or compromise in good faith?

> ** I believe that in this case, both parents would be equally likely to favor mediation, negotiation, or compromise in good faith. There is more equal ground in terms of power coming into the situation, and neither person will automatically feel entitled to custody. As such, they may be more willing to seek solutions that will be equitable for both parties.

** Still, however, factors such as personality and anger will no doubt be important. Some people, by virtue of personality, will be more drawn to mediation than others.

> Question: On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being the least likely and 10 being most likely), how likely is it that parent B will agree to mediate, negotiate or compromise in good faith?

> ——————–

> Question: Is model 1, model 2, or neither model more likely to facilitate an environment, generally, where the parents can be expected to mediate, compromise, or negotiate in good faith?

> Question (if applicable): How much more likely is the model chosen above [than the other model] to result in mediation, compromise, or negotiation in good faith? (slightly more likely, somewhat more likely, significantly more likely, or overwhelmingly more likely)

** My prediction: Model B would be somewhat more likely than Model A to result in mediation, compromise, or negotiation in good faith.

> Thank you so much for taking the time for this, Julie.

** You’re welcome. I hope that it helps. –Julie

> Best Regards,

> Marc Snider

> Merrimack, NH