Pub. Date:
Springer Publishing Company
Developmental Psychology for Family Law Professionals: Theory, Application and the Best Interests of the Child

Developmental Psychology for Family Law Professionals: Theory, Application and the Best Interests of the Child

by Benjamin Garber PhD
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[T]he best and most useful social science text I have read in a decadeÖ.It is comprehensive in its research and scope, clearly written and uses excellent case studies and examples to illustrate in simple terms what might otherwise be complex phenomena.

--Dr. Tom Altobelli
Federal Magistrate, Family Law Courts
Sydney, Australia

The goal of every family law professional and mental health practitioner is to improve family court outcomes in the best interests of the child. This book will assist readers in meeting this critical goal. Developmental Psychology for Family Law Professionals serves as a practical application of developmental theory to the practice of family law.

This book helps family law and mental health professionals gain a broader understanding of each child's unique needs when in the midst of family crisis. It presents developmental theories with which professionals might better assess the developmental needs, synchronies, and trajectories of a given child. Ultimately, this book presents guidelines for making appropriate legal decisions and recommendations for children who have experienced crises such as abuse, neglect, relocation, divorce, and much more.

Key topics include:

  • Custodial schedules
  • Foster and adoptive care
  • Post-divorce disputes
  • Termination of parental rights
  • Psychological assessment and diagnosis
  • Incarcerated parents and visitation rights
  • Relocation and "distance parenting"
  • Visitation resistance and refusal/reunification
  • Parental Alienation/alignment and estrangement
  • Theories of cognitive, language, and social development

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780826105257
Publisher: Springer Publishing Company
Publication date: 09/09/2009
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 408
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Benjamin D. Garber, PhD, is a New Hampshire licensed psychologist, state certified Guardian ad litem and parenting coordinator. His practice in clinical, consulting, and forensic psychology assists families, agencies, schools and communities to better understand and meet the needs of children, particularly in the context of conflicted family transitions. Dr. Garber serves the courts by providing training, consultation, expert witness and custody assessment services.
He is the founder of Parenting Coordinators of New Hampshire (, a non-profit organization of family law professionals. He also has a personal website,
Dr. Garber is the author of Keeping Kids Out of the Middle: Child-Centered Parenting in the Midst of Adult Conflict, Separation and Divorce (Health Communications, Inc; October, 2008), which speaks to caregivers about the critical importance of co-parenting regardless of the legal status of their relationship. He also served as consulting psychologist for Your Toddler Month By Month (Penguin Books, 2007).
He has published articles in journals such as Family Court Review, Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice, Journal of Child Custody, Professional Psychology, Psychotherapy, and more.

Read an Excerpt


Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgment xv

Part I One Size Can Never Fit All 1

1 Why a Perspective on Child and Family Development? 5

2 Caveat Lector: On the Limitations and Relevance of Developmental Theory, Statistics, and Methods 19

Part II Developmental Theory in Overview 41

3 Cognitive Development 43

4 Language Development 55

5 Social and Emotional Development 69

6 The Child's Defense Mechanisms: Regression, Stress, and Impediments to Developmental Capacity 95

7 Developmental Asynchrony and Décalage 105

Part III In the Best Developmental Interests of the Child: Topics in Separation, Visitation, and Reunification 141

8 A Child's Understanding of Time, Separation, and Loss 143

9 Custodial Schedules and Infant Overnights 153

10 On Visitation Resistance and Refusal 165

11 Growing Up Apart: Child–Parent Separation 179

12 Development and Parent–Child Reunification 201

13 Development and the Termination of Parental Rights 215

Part IV Advanced Applications of Developmental Theory to Family Law Practice 227

14 What Is a “Mature Minor”? 229

15 Psychological Assessment and Diagnosis in Family Law 247

16 Alienation, Estrangement, and Alignment: The Tools and Weapons of Affiliation 263

17 Development in the Mirror: On Becoming (and Remaining) a Family Law Professional 279


Appendix I Learn More Now: Agencies, Organizations, and Experts 295

Appendix II Preserving Families, Serving Children's Needs, and Building Our Shared Future: A Proposal for a National Program of Continuing Parent Education 309

Appendix III Select Resources for Involuntary Separation: Incarcerated, Enlisted, or Hospitalized Parents 311

Appendix IV Mentoring Youth: Anchoring Kids Cast Adrift 319

Appendix V On Compassion Fatigue, Burnout, and Vicarious Traumatization 321

References 325

Index 381

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