You are here

Conducting Child Custody Evaluations

Conducting Child Custody Evaluations
From Basic to Complex Issues

November 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.

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

Therapeutic Reunification

Collaborative Law Coach

Psychologist Evaluator/Psychiatrist/Vocational Evaluator


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

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


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


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

About the Author

For instructors

Please select a format:

Select a Purchasing Option

ISBN: 9781412974349

ISBN: 9781412974332

SAGE Knowledge is the premier social sciences platform for SAGE and CQ Press book, reference and video content.

The platform allows researchers to cross-search and seamlessly access a wide breadth of must-have SAGE book and reference content from one source.