The Use of Psychological Testing in Child Custody Evaluations

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Evaluation of families for purposes of assisting the court in making decisions about custody is perhaps the most complicated forensic evaluation. Mental health professionals conducting such evaluations must ensure that their evaluations validly assess areas of concern deemed relevant by the judiciary and legislature. Evaluators sometimes use psychological measures in the evaluation process, and in recent years, a number of tests designed specifically for use in child custody evaluation contexts have been developed. Because some published tests do not meet basic professional standards, child custody evaluators should carefully review any test and its supporting documentation before including it in their examination procedures. In this article, the authors discuss the rationale for using psychological tests in child custody evaluations, describe current testing practices, review and critique contemporary custody evaluation instruments, and offer a template for mental health professionals to use when considering use of a particular test.

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Family Court Review, v. 38, issue 3, p. 312-340