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The Focus of a Child Custody Evaluation

Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Divorce Proceedings

I. Orienting Guidelines: Purpose of a Child Custody Evaluation

3. The focus of the evaluation is on parenting capacity, the psychological and developmental needs of the child, and the resulting fit.


In considering psychological factors affecting the best interests of the child, the psychologist focuses on the parenting capacity of the prospective custodians in conjunction with the psychological and developmental needs of each involved child. This involves (a) an assessment of the adults' capacities for parenting, including whatever knowledge, attributes, skills, and abilities, or lack thereof, are present; (b) an assessment of the psychological functioning and developmental needs of each child and of the wishes of each child where appropriate; and (c) an assessment of the functional ability of each parent to meet these needs, including an evaluation of the interaction between each adult and child.

The values of the parents relevant to parenting, ability to plan for the child's future needs, capacity to provide a stable and loving home, and any potential for inappropriate behavior or misconduct that might negatively influence the child also are considered. Psychopathology may be relevant to such an assessment, insofar as it has impact on the child or the ability to parent, but it is not the primary focus.
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Parenting capacity? of the prospective custodians?

You see the first problem I have with this is if the child is fine, happy, and/or excelling in his/her current environment, why are psychs getting in the way and assessing a prospective environment? And by psychs, I really mean the "professionals" who claim that they are doing this but they are really parental alienation "specialists."

I don't care about the parenting capacity in so much that if someone is already raising the child, has been raising the child, is the primary caretaker, why are we thinking of changing this if things are good with the child? Why are we disrupting the child?

And how can one psych determine the psychological needs of the child after a couple of interviews? This person is a stranger to the child. This person does not live with the child. This person has limited interaction with the child and then gathers some paperwork and subjective reports from people in the child's life and then makes another subjective determination based on whatever information the psych chose to evaluate.

"The wishes of the child where appropriate"? That was conveniently added and briefly addressed.

So let's say, the child is well-cared for, well-adjusted, in his/her current home, and vocalizes that he/she wishes to remain as such, why are custody evaluators really switching custody?

"The values of the parents relevant to parenting"? Bingo. There it is. If the child custody evaluator's ideas about parenting are in line with one particular parent and that parent's ideas/preferences/biases, then that is who the evaluator will favor.

We need psychology out of the courtroom. Custody evaluators are biased (reminds me of science research studies that are paid for by the pharmaceutical corporations) Liz Kates has several questions that we must ask these evaluators. Their answers shine a bright light.

(1) Do you have a law degree or previous extensive experience as a law enforcement officer doing investigations, and if not, what qualifies you to do this work?

(2) What is your actual field of professional expertise, and what makes you expert in what's good for other people's children or how other people should live their lives?

(3) What is your own childhood family background?

(4) What is your own family, marital, sexual and relationship history as an adult?

(5) Disclose in detail all prior contacts of any kind which you have had with any of the parties, experts, judge(s), or lawyers in this case, or the associates, family members, friends, or disclosed therapists of any of them in either a professional or social capacity.

(6) Why do you want to be appointed in this case, and...

(7) What do you perceive your role to be if you are?


Please also read, Custody Evaluators: In Their Own Words



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