The Art and Science of Child Custody Evaluations

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Addressomg key topics in child custody evalution, this bookprovides essential knowledge for practitioners who want to meet the highest standards for both scientific validity and legal admissibility. The authors are leading experts who describe the latest data-based approaches to understanding and assessing relevant child, parent, adn family factors. Going beyond the basics, the book gives in-depth attention to controversial, frequently encoutered issues, such as how to evaluate allegations of domestic violence, ...

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Addressomg key topics in child custody evalution, this bookprovides essential knowledge for practitioners who want to meet the highest standards for both scientific validity and legal admissibility. The authors are leading experts who describe the latest data-based approaches to understanding and assessing relevant child, parent, adn family factors. Going beyond the basics, the book gives in-depth attention to controversial, frequently encoutered issues, such as how to evaluate allegations of domestic violence, child sexual abuse, and child alienation. Also covered are the challenges of interviewing children effectively and working in the adversarial forensic context. A user-friendly appendix contains sample letters and statements of understanding with permission to photocopy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Gould and Martindale have given mental health professionals a thoughtful, thorough, and impressively evidence-based overview of the what, how, and why of child custody evaluations. I want separated parents to decide what's best for their own children, but when they can't or won't, I urge custody evaluators to follow Gould and Martindale's careful advice. This book should be read by students and professionals not only for the information it offers, but also for its cautions--ethical, practical, and human."--Robert E. Emery, PhD, Department of Psychology and Center for Children, Families, and the Law, University of Virginia

"A groundbreaking book by Gould and Martindale. Their expertise provides the reader with a comprehensive guide to building the best possible child custody evaluations, with a thorough examination of issues such as minimizing and correcting for an evaluator's bias and assessing allegations of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and alienation. An exquisite work by two of the field's most brilliant forensic experts!"--Leslie M. Drozd, PhD, Editor, Journal of Child Custody

"The past decade has seen a sea change in custody evaluations, from impressionistic interviews and 'clinical wisdom' to systematic evaluations and data-based findings. In this extraordinarily clear and well-written book, Gould and Martindale explain key forensic methods of custody evaluation, laying bare their foundations and showing how to apply them to everyday work. The book is simultaneously a manifesto for the new era of custody evaluations and a handbook for those who perform them. It is a fine starting point for graduate students in forensic psychology, fellows in forensic psychiatry, and mental health professionals entering the field of custody evaluation, and will also help the most experienced evaluators refine their thinking. The emphasis on risk management should help evaluators minimize the formal complaints that are the bane of their existence. Judges and lawyers will appreciate the book's authoritative, jargon-free exposition."--Robert M. Galatzer-Levy, MD, Department of Psychiatry, University of Chicago, and Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis

Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic

"Clinicians of any discipline should not be scared off by the title. Inside lies a marvelous glimpse into how the courts, and forensic psychologists, think about cases in which a divorcing couple is unable to agree upon child custody. As a child and adolescent psychiatrist, I found the chapters on family functioning and parenting behaviors particularly relevant....My consciousness has now been raised, and I find myself thinking differently as a result of Drs. Gould and Martindale's book. Also relevant to any clinician working with children are the chapters concerning the evaluation of children....Psychologists preparing to do child custody evaluations will find [this book] enormously helpful. It is clearly laid out, covers all the main areas one needs to know in order to do competent child custody evaluations, and provides references for further reading and sample letters and statements of understanding that the reader has permission to photocopy and use. In addition, child custody evaluations are anchored in a theoretical framework, that of forensic methodology, not clinical opinion....It mentions 'dos' and 'don'ts' of working with the legal system and has excellent chapters on parental alienation and how to assess allegations of child abuse or domestic violence."--Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic
Psychiatric Services

"The authors demonstrate their comprehensive knowledge of the research associated with many of the issues and factors commonly evaluated....Serves as a valuable resource to the skilled professional while offering a thorough overview to those considering entering the family forensic field."--Psychiatric Services
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593854881
  • Publisher: Guilford Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/28/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 450
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan W. Gould, PhD, ABPP, practices forensic psychology with a specialization in issues related to family law, including child custody, and is board certified in forensic psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology. He performs court-appointed custody evaluations and consults with attorneys and psychologists in the areas of child custody, Child Protective Services evaluations such as termination of parental rights, and professional ethics and standards. Dr. Gould also consults with attorneys in the areas of criminal child sexual abuse and other forms of child maltreatment.

David A. Martindale, PhD, ABPP, is board certified in forensic psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology. He performed court-appointed custody evaluations for 16 years in New York state and served as the Reporter for the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts’ Model Standards for Child Custody Evaluation. Dr. Martindale’s practice is now limited to consulting with attorneys, psychologists, and psychology licensing boards in the areas of child custody and professional ethics and standards.

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Table of Contents

Part I Child Custody Evaluations and the Best Interests of the Child

Chapter 1 Introduction 3

The Purpose of a Child Custody Evaluation 4

The Relationship between Law and Psychology 4

A Very Hot Kitchen 6

Changing Paradigms 9

The Importance of a Scientifically Informed Approach 11

Assessing the Best Psychological Interests of the Child within the Family Context 24

Chapter 2 The Best Interests of the Child Standard 31

Development of the BICS 31

Legal Criticisms of the BICS 32

American Society and Child Custody Standards 33

History of the BICS 34

Determining the Best Psychological Interests of the Child 42

The Evaluator's Focus 48

Summary 51

Part II The Art of Child Custody Evaluations

Chapter 3 Ethics and Methods 55

Clarity and Specificity in Ethics Codes 55

The 2002 Psychologists' Ethics Code: New and Improved of Just New? 57

A Sequential Examination of Ethical Issues and Methodology 58

The Art of Self-Promotion 60

Getting Off to a Good Start 62

Bumps in the Road 71

The Report 74

Postevaluation Issues: The Virtues of Not Being Helpful, Part 2 77

Pretrial Issues: The Virtues of Not Being Helpful, Part 3 77

The Virtues of Being Helpful, Part 1 78

The Big Day: The Virtues of Being Helpful, Part 2 78

The Virtues of Not Being Helpful, Part 4 79

Return of the Big Day: It Ain't Over Even When It's Over 79

Ethical Dilemmas 80

Ethics and Your Other Job 83

Summary 84

Chapter 4 Minimizing and Correcting for Bias 86

Confirmatory Bias and Confirmatory Distortion 87

Transparency and Due Process 93

Summary 97

Chapter 5 Increasing the Reliability and Relevance of Child Custody Evaluations 98

The Standard ofRelevance and the Formulation of Questions 100

The Standard of Reliability and the Use of Forensic Methods 103

The Use of Direct Behavioral Observations of Parent and Child 104

The Use of Collateral Record Review and Collateral Interviews 106

Offering Conclusions and Recommendations 107

Summary 108

Chapter 6 Interviewing Children 110

Factors to Consider in Interviewing Children 111

Improper Interviewing Methods and Their Negative Effect on Children's Testimony 113

Risks of Inaccuracies in Evaluators' Recording or Recollection of Child Interview Data 117

Due Process Considerations Related to Improper Interviewing and Inaccurate Hearsay 120

The Need to Audio- or Videotape All Interviews with Children 121

Summary 123

Chapter 7 Children's Voices 124

Learning to Hear Children's Experience of Divorce 124

Linguistic Principles to Guide Forensic Interviews of Children 127

Common Linguistic Problems in Interviewing Children 133

Summary 141

Part III The Science of Child Custody Evaluations: Factors to Assess in Child Custody Evaluations

Chapter 8 Assessment of Child Developmental Factors 145

Setting the Stage 146

Children's Reactions to Separation and Divorce 147

Children's Adjustment and the Need for Competent Parenting 149

Research Examining Relevant Child Development Factors 150

Developing Competence in Children 151

Definitions of Competence and Resilience 153

Developmental Tasks 154

Foundations of Competence in Early Development 155

Attachments and Parenting 156

Attachment and Development of Internal Working Models 158

Children's Relationships with Caring Adults: The Attachment System 159

Application of Child Development Research to Custody and Access Decision Making about Young Children 163

Competence in the School Years 170

Resilience in Children at Risk 177

Organizing the Advisory Report around Children's Voices 179

Children's View of Each Parent's Fairness, Caring, and Respect 181

Summary 182

Chapter 9 Assessment of Parent Factors 184

Defining Parenting 185

Emotional Competence in Adults 193

Parenting Style Variables 197

Postdivorce Father Involvement 210

Organizing the Advisory Report around Parenting Competencies 215

Summary 220

Chapter 10 Assessment of Family Factors 221

Risky Family Factors 222

Risky Family Characteristics and Emotion Processing 224

Emotion Processing and Mental and Physical Health Outcomes 226

Social Competence and Mental and Physical Health Outcomes 230

Substance Abuse and Risky Sexual Behavior 231

Socioeconomic Status, Family Characteristics, and Mental and Physical Health Risks 233

Physical Health and Safety Factors 234

Assessment of Risky Family Factors 236

Summary 238

Part IV The Art and Science of Child Custody Evaluations: Assessing Allegations of Maltreatment

Chapter 11 Assessing Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse 241

Maltreatment 242

Defining Child Sexual Abuse 247

Careful Use of Terminology 249

Evaluating Allegations of Sexual Abuse 249

The Use of Psychological Tests and Measures 262

Forensic Evaluation of an Alleged Perpetrator of Child Maltreatment 270

Kirkpatrick's Model of Evaluation of Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse within the Context of Child Custody Disputes 273

Summary 276

Chapter 12 Assessing Allegations of Domestic Violence 277

Abuse Is a Violation of a Fundamental Human Right 278

The Importance of Research about Men and Research about Women 279

Competing Needs of Science and Politics 280

Models, Assumptions within Models, and Potential Bias 282

Evaluators Are Better Educated Than We Thought 283

Foundational Concepts in Understanding Domestic Violence 286

Models of Domestic Violence 295

Models of Psychological Assessment in the Forensic Evaluation of Allegations of Domestic Violence within a Custody Dispute 307

Bancroft and Silverman's Model of Assessment of Familial Maltreatment 312

Summary 316

Chapter 13 Assessing Allegations of Child Alienation 317

Gardner's Parental Alienation Syndrome 319

Kelly and Johnston's Child Alienation Model 335

Drozd and Olesen's Model for Discriminating Alienation from Domestic Violence 343

Summary 350

Chapter 14 Another Call for Humility 351

Stay within the Lines 351

Know State Statutes and Case Law 352

Do Not Offer Ultimate-Opinion Testimony Concerning the Credibility of the Litigants 352

Follow Peer-Reviewed Methods and Procedures 353

Do Not Make Complex That Which Is Simple 353

Know Current Literature 354

Appreciate the Distinction between Clinical Assessment and Forensic Assessment 355

Recognize That Conducting Custody Evaluations Is an Inherently Forensic Endeavor 355

Recognize That the Court Shall Be Conceptualized as the Primary Recipient of the Report That the Evaluator Prepares 355

Create and Preserve Detailed Records 355

Attend Continuing Education Seminars 356

Summary 356

A Final Word 356

Appendix: Sample Statements of Understanding and Letters 361

References 387

Index 441

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