Addressing key topics in child custody evaluation, this book provides 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, and family factors. Going beyond the basics, the book gives in-depth attention to challenging, frequently encountered issues, such as how to evaluate allegations of domestic violence, child sexual abuse, and child alienation. Also covered are the complexities of interviewing children effectively and working in the adversarial forensic context. A user-friendly appendix contains sample letters and working agreements that readers can adapt for their own use, with permission to photocopy.
--- from the publisher
"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
"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."
"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."
-Robert M. Galatzer-Levy, MD, Department of Psychiatry, University of Chicago, and Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis
I. Child Custody Evaluations and the Best Interests of the Child
2. The Best Interests of the Child Standard
II. The Art of Child Custody Evaluations
3. Ethics and Methods
4. Minimizing and Correcting for Bias
5. Increasing the Reliability and Relevance of Child Custody Evaluations
6. Interviewing Children
7. Children's Voices
III. The Science of Child Custody Evaluations: Factors to Assess in Child Custody Evaluations
8. Assessment of Child Developmental Factors
9. Assessment of Parent Factors
10. Assessment of Family Factors
IV. The Art and Science of Child Custody Evaluations: Assessing Allegations of Maltreatment
11. Assessing Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse
12. Assessing Allegations of Domestic Violence
13. Assessing Allegations of Child Alienation
14. Another Call for Humility
Appendix: Sample Statements of Understanding and Letters
About the Authors:
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.