CHILD CUSTODY DISPUTES
"Doctor, what is the very best custodial arrangement for these children?"
Mental health professionals enter into child custody disputes in various ways. A psychotherapist may be treating a parent or a child involved in divorce proceedings with contested custody for the children. On occasion, a child expert is hired by a parent or family law attorney specifically to evaluate the custody issue and to testify in family court on behalf of one of the parents. Finally, a mental health professional can be appointed by the court or hired by a guardian ad litem (for the lawsuit) to provide expert opinion regarding custody arrangements that are in the best interests of the children. The latter role may be the most desirable for the expert because of the advantage of having equal access to both parents, with the capacity to obtain a more complete assessment of the family constellation and dynamics.
Q. Doctor, could you tell us how you became involved in these divorce proceedings?
A. I was appointed by the family court judge to conduct an evaluation of Mr. and Mrs. Johnson and their 3 children. Specifically, I was asked to determine the best custodial arrangement for the 3 children after their parents are divorced.
Q. How did you conduct your evaluation?
A. I interviewed each parent for 1 hour in my office and I hour at their respective residences. I also administered the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 to each parent at my office. I interviewed each
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Publication information: Book title: Mastering Expert Testimony:A Courtroom Handbook for Mental Health Professionals. Contributors: William T. Tsushima - Author, Robert M. Anderson Jr. - Author. Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Place of publication: Mahwah, NJ. Publication year: 1996. Page number: 95.
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