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Conducting Child Custody Evaluations
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Conducting Child Custody Evaluations
From Basic to Complex Issues



September 2010 | 368 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
This book is a combination of two previously published books by Phil Stahl/Sage, Conducting Child Custody Evaluations and Complex Issues in Child Custody Evaluations.

The book was written as a guide to help students and practitioners walk through the process of conducting a child custody evaluation, a critical skill for a variety of mental health practitioners. The book will cover the mental health expert's many possible roles as a therapist, mediator, evaluator, consultant to attorneys, expert witness, and more. It also address the best interest of the child, legal custody and time share, divorce and its impact on children, and children's developmental needs. The second part takes a step-by-step approach on how to conduct the evaluation, including how to work with children and parents, psychological testing, and writing up the report. The final part, complex issues, draws from the 1999 book, and covers issues such as domestic violence, non-violent high-conflict homes, relocation, special needs children, substance abuse, cultural issues and the alienated child. The author's writing style is friendly and easy to read, making complex material easy to comprehend and implement.

 
Preface
 
PART I: CRITICAL PROFESSIONAL AND ETHICAL ISSUES
 
1. Introduction to the Role, Ethics, and Professional Responsibility
How the Courts Benefit From an Evaluation  
How the Family Benefits From an Evaluation  
When is the Evaluation Harmful  
Who is the Client/Consumer  
Practical Standards and Ethical Issues  
Evaluator Biases  
Reducing the Risk of Bias  
 
2. The Mental Health Expert's Many Possible Roles
Therapists  
Therapeutic Reunification  
Collaborative Law Coach  
Psychologist Evaluator/Psychiatrist/Vocational Evaluator  
Mediator  
Consultant to Attorney/Expert Witness  
Parent Coordinator  
The Custody Evaluator  
Dual Relationships  
 
3. Fundamental Questions in Most Custody Evaluations
The Best Interests of the Child  
The Family's Relationships  
Parenting Strengths and Weaknesses  
The Co-Parental Relationship  
Time-Sharing Recommendations  
 
4. General divorce-Related Research and Basic Statutory and Case Law
A Quick Primer on Research  
Risks of Divorce to Children  
Risk vs. Resiliency  
Mitigating Factors  
Research on Parent's Relationships After Divorce  
Basic Statutory and Case Law  
Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)  
Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act  
Troxel Vs. Granville (2000)  
Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction  
California Statutes and Case Law  
 
5. Children's Developmental Needs
A Developmental Framework  
 
PART II: CONDUCTING THE CHILD CUSTODY EVALUATION
 
6. Conducting the Evaluation Part I: Observations and Techniques With Adults
The Court Order and Initial Contact With Attorneys  
The Initial Phone Call and Contacts With Parents  
The Initial Contact  
The First Conjoint Appointment  
The Initial Individual Appointment  
The Second Interview and Beyond  
What to Believe?  
The Use of Psychological Tests  
 
7. Conducting the Evaluation Part II: Observations and Techniques With Children
Significant Issues in the Assessment of Children/Gaining Rapport at the Beginning of the First Interview  
Children and the Potential for Suggestibility  
Children and Their Language  
Gathering Information About the Child's Experiences  
Directly Assessing the Parent-Child Bond  
Siblings Together, or Not?  
Use of Play and Other Techniques in Understanding Children  
Home Visits  
The Preference of the Child  
 
8. The Use of Psychological Testing in Custody Evaluations
Review of the Literature  
Traditional Psychological Tests  
Tests Designed Specifically for Custody Evaluations  
Parenting Inventories  
Tests for Children  
Benefits of Using Tests  
Risks in Using Tests  
Computerized Test Results  
A Balanced Approach  
 
9. Gathering of Collateral Data
What is Collateral Data?  
Benefits of Using Collateral Data  
Record Review  
Gathering Lists of Collateral Sources  
Who To Talk To - A Concentric Circle Approach  
Interviewing Collateral Sources  
 
10. Sharing the Results of the Evaluation - The Evaluation Report
AFCC Model Standards  
Basic Characteristics of a Quality Report  
Information Which Must be in Every Report  
The Parents  
The Children  
Collateral Information  
Analysis and Summary  
Recommendations  
 
PART III: COMPLEX ISSUES TO BE EVALUATED
 
11. Non-Violent High Conflict Families
Contribution From Personality Features  
Contribution From Other Sources  
Recommendations for High Conflict Families  
A Case for Sole Legal custody of Decision Making  
 
12. Domestic Violence
The Concept of Differentiation  
Approaching the Family's Domestic Violence Issues  
Parenting Problems of Domestic Violence Parents  
Gathering Data  
The Alphabet Soup of Using Data to Formulate Conclusions  
Using the PPPP Analysis with the RRR Concepts to Reach a Decision About the Parenting Plan  
Therapeutic and Structural Interventions  
 
13. The Alienated Child
Contribution to the Child's Alienated Response  
Parent Contributions to the Development of Alienation  
Child Contributions to the Development of Alienation  
Typical Alienated Behaviors in Children  
Emotional Impact of Alienation on Children  
Dynamics of the Larger System  
Evaluation of Alienation  
Other Reasons for Alignment With One Parent - What to Look for in the Children  
Concluding the Evaluation  
 
14. Relocation Evaluations
Legal Considerations in Relocation Evaluations - Relevant Case Law  
Legal Considerations in Relocation Evaluations - Relevant Statutory Law  
The Psychological Literature Related to Relocation  
Societal Issue That Often Lead to Requests to Move  
Factors for the Evaluator to Consider  
Special Issues in International Cases  
Avoiding Bias  
 
15. Tackling the Terror of Testifying
The Deposition  
The Process at Trial  
Preparing for the Testimony  
Testifying Procedures  
Stick to the Data  
Dealing With Hypothetical Questions  
Remain Professional  
Trick Questions  
Do's and Don'ts for Testifying in Court  
 
16. Critiquing Evaluations
 
17. Conclusions
Special Needs for Children  
Substance Abuse Issues  
Sexual Abuse Allegations  
Longitudinal Evaluations  
Conclusions  
 
Appendices
Sample Court Order  
Sample Informed Consent and Retainer Agreement  
Sample Intake Form  
Sample Listing of Questions for Parents  
Sample Listing of Questions for Children  
Sample Alienation Analysis and Recommendation  
Sample Relocaiton Analysis and Recommendation  
 
References
 
About the Author

For instructors

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