Philip M. Stahl
Frequently the result of conflict between parents who cannot agree on parenting time and/or custody of their children, child custody evaluations (sometimes called parenting evaluations or parenting plan evaluations), are complex psycho-social assessments. Typically court-ordered, these evaluations of separated and/or divorcing/divorced parents and their children are often involved and thorough, incorporating many interviews and assessments and confronting difficult issues.
Comprehensively addressing these evaluations, this chapter provides guidance on the range of psychological factors, relevant legal considerations and elements of a proper forensic evaluation, as well as how to ensure only valid and qualified expert testimony is admitted. Particular topics include:
Gold standard in child custody evaluations
Sexual abuse allegations
Developmentally sensitive parenting plans
Role of consultant and expert witness
Guidance for addressing expert testimony with good, average and deficient reports
Case law regarding evaluations, expert testimony and expert bias
Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act
High conflict in divorcing families
General divorce research and child adjustment
Relocation, including international relocation
Guidance for making recommendations
Case law on particular issues, including domestic violence, relocation, changed circumstances, sibling issues and grandparent visitation
Sample voir dire questions for direct- and cross- examination
Designed to help litigators, judges and experts quickly get up-to-speed on the fundamentals of proper evaluations, this chapter on Child Custody Evaluations is a must for any professional who needs to understand this challenging area of law.
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