The Effect of Child Custody Conflict on Juvenile Delinquency and Psychopathy

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This paper will describe how custody conflicts have detrimental effects on children and it will create a link between psychopathic tendencies and juvenile delinquency when exposed to parental conflict.


  • Juvenile Delinquency. The habitual committing of criminal acts or offenses by a young person, typically between the ages of ten to seventeen.
  • Offending. Committing an illegal act
  • Psychopathy. A socially devastating disorder defined by a constellation of affective, interpersonal, and behavioral characteristics, including egocentricity; impulsivity; irresponsibility; shallow emotions; lack of empathy, guilt, or remorse; pathological lying; manipulativeness; and the persistent violation of social norms and expectations (Loving & Gacono, 2002)
  • Joint Custody (JC). This type of custody can refer to either shared physical custody, with children spending equal or substantial amounts of time with both parents. Parents with joint custody share legal responsibility and authority to make major decisions affecting their children on such issues as education, medical care, religious practice, and other essential parental decisions. There has been substantial debate as to whether joint custody inherently signifies joint physical custody, an arrangement in which the child spends a substantial amount of time residing with each parent on some regular schedule, thus spending divided weeks, alternating weeks or some other arrangement of dividing time spent with parents. While joint legal custody may be ordered without joint physical custody the concept of joint custody would seem to involve the child's spending a substantial portion of time with each parent, an aspect which is one of the asserted benefits of the arrangement. (American Bar Association, 2008)
  • Sole Custody (SC). One parent, usually mom, has physical care and control of the child, plus the right to make any and all decisions affecting the child. (American Bar Association, 2008)

Literature Review

[The first two heading levels get their own paragraph, as shown here. Headings 3, 4, and 5 are run-in headings used at the beginning of the paragraph.]

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Child Custody

Custody typically happens when parents’ divorce, but it is a common situation when the parents of the children had never wed. The court determines the child’s custody arrangements, and while determining where to place the child, the court and its employees have to make decisions in the “best interests of the child.” This decision requires the wishes of the contested children, the children’s parents or guardians, the children’s comfort in the home and mental and physical health of the parent or guardians.

Child Custody Conflict

Juvenile Delinquency

Juvenile delinquency has been a serious issue in the American society for a prolonged period of time. According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency (OJJDP), the delinquency rate has declined by 72% since 1996. Though, it is still one of the highest in the United States in comparison to other countries around the world. Discovering one single cause of delinquency is difficult, but one of the most important causes can be the child’s family life and their environment, “most researchers have observed that the social context of the family plays a role in the unfolding of juvenile delinquency” (Quinsey, Skilling, Lalumiére, & Craig, 2004, p.80)

Family Structure

There is plenty of research that examines the impact of family structure on juvenile delinquency. Family life can contribute directly to the development of juvenile delinquency. Studies have shown that the family environment can promote a risk or a protective factor. Children that are raised in supportive, affectionate, and accepting homes are less likely to become delinquent (Wright & Wright, 1994). There is a common belief that children need both a mother and a father and when conflict arises, such as divorce or child custody battles, it can be harsh toward the children involved. Children are torn between their parents and psychological issues can begin to arise. Child custody battles can create emotional conflict, academic stress, and other social related stress factors. A preponderance of research suggests that children exposed to family changes are put at an increases risk of experiencing problematic behavior such as conduct problems and juvenile delinquency (Fergusson, Horwood, & Lynskey, 2006). Previous research has suggested that a child’s exposure to family change and parental conflict are directly related to their risk of committing a crime, or offending (Fergusson et al, 2006). Thus, the risk of a child offending is also directly related to the level of parental conflict that the child is exposed to in the home or in their environment. Simply experiencing a family breakup does not constitute enough of a risk factor to predict later criminal behavior; however, when family instability existed, the family’s breakup constituted an event directly associated with later criminal behavior.


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The Effect of Child Custody Conflict on Juvenile Delinquency and Psychopathy. (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 18, 2024, from
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