Thursday, October 08, 2009

Custody evaluator attitudes

In the process of hunting for a child custody evaluator, I talked to a bunch of them. I have had eight evaluations done on me for the court, altho not all of them made child custody recommendations. I have called about fifty of them on the telephone. So I know a little bit about the process, from the parent's view. Here are my observations about the evaluators.

They like to play god. Besides the obvious cash benefits, they do what they do because they like to tell other people how to live. They view parents as incompetent morons who cannot run their own lives, and who need some shrink to tell them what to do. The evaluators are more dictatorial than a parent telling a three-year-old to goto bed. Differing child-rearing philosophies are not even open for discussion, as the evaluator is overly-opinionated and always thinks that he knows best. If you express a different view, then the evaluator will recommend counseling until you conform to his own particular prejudices.

They are extremely insecure about their work. Unlike other professionals, they are unwilling to show examples of their work. When they can get away with it, they hide their reports from anyone who might disagree. They will even try to give a report to just the judge, without the parents seeing it. It is as tho they live in fear that they will be exposed as incompetent, or that another will testify against their opinions.

They have no respect for the legal process. People accuse me of having low respect for the courts, but I think that the evaluators have even less. They have no regard for what the court might have decided, and they don't care to even learn about the relevant legal processes. They don't think that judges should have any role except to order recommendations from experts. They don't think that lawyers should be advocates for their clients.

They do not understand the role of attorneys. Some of the evaluators refuse to take a case unless the parents are represented by lawyers. They will explain that they have to do this because the parents are not objective, apparently not realizing that the lawyers are even less objective.

They fake reliance on tests. The psychologists will pretend that their process is made objective by doing standardized psychological tests, but it is all for show. They never actually use the test results to influence their recommendations. The evaluator uses the tests like the way a stage magician uses a pretty girl to distract the audience.

They have no concept of evidence. A scientist or a lawyer will collect evidence that is relevant to demonstrating whatever they want to demonstrate. The evaluators will collect lots of info, but they don't seem to understand what sorts of evidence would support what sorts of conclusions. They seem to think that they can just rely on their intuition, and the actual evidence will not matter.

They cannot describe what they do. They can describe the procedural formalities, such as the appointments and the fees, but the real object is the recommendation. They are unable or unwilling to describe how they do that. They cannot even articulate their guiding principles, if they even have any.

I should emphasize that these are generalizations based on talked to dozens of evaluators, and do not apply to all of them. For example, some of them do not seem threatened by the idea that someone else might give contradictory testimony. Some of them are probably able to describe what they do, but they just don't want to describe it for me. It is possible that those psychological tests are useful in 5% of the cases, but they don't seem to have any bearing on the vast majority of the cases.

But they all come from a mindset that says that a family court can intrude on parents' lives at any time, and use the flimsiest excuses to dictate how they will rear their kids.


Anonymous said...


i agree with everything you've stated. the problem is you've been baited and trapped. it's a catch 22, that they've created for you and others.

after this next evaluation, your ninth, what are you going to argue ? should it serve your purposes, it doesn't matter. your ex will again say that you "bought it " or say that it should have not included this, that him her, or whatever, etc. " should it favor her, you'll argue again what you're arguing now, that the evaluations are useless and performed by biased, ignorant, irresponsible, and unethical, bureaucrats, etc.

now, should it be vague, and or, incomprehensive, inconclsuve etc., then what, another ? a tenth ?

i know... what else are you to do ?

something else. is what you're doing a means towards what's best for your children or yourself ? it's serving those that you've proven have victimized you and others.

Anonymous said...


You're an educated guy, right ? Professional ? Ph.d, right ? Where did you go to school ? How have you earned your living over the years? OK, These are somewhat rhetorical, as i and others have a good idea of the answeres.

Now, compare yourself to these people you're dealing with, ok ?
The initial evaluator, Dr. Johnson, a night school teacher ? graduated, what Fresno State, or something. advertises in the YELLOW PAGES, as most of the others do. He can't earn a living practicing, attracting and maintaining patients, right ? No, he earns his living from court referrals and night school teaching. Does anyone who deals with him ever actually CHOOSE TO DO SO ? Apparently, no one who's given the choice, chooses him.

Irwin Joseph, graduate of San Fernando Valley Law School, right ?
Think he abandonded some wonderful,thriving personal practice to sit on the bench ? No, he too, must have business assigned to him.

OK, remeber attorney James Ritchey ? Assigned to represent your kids, right ? Didn't you find that he was a defendant, personally, in over 20 cases, filed against him in Santa Cruz ?

What about Muccelli, or the mediator, Berrenge ? Think they have any REAL patients, or practices ?

These people sit on lists, waiting for court referrals. They set up little practices in Santa CLARA COUNTY, TOO !! Think they want to drive 40 miles each way to this type of "work" because they're so able to fill their calendars with patients eagerly, seeking treatment from them in Santa Cruz ?

Obviously, this is what they're stuck doing.

So what are you expecting out of these folks, or more and more of these folks over the future, years?

Look, Johnson was deliberately, outrageous with the "hairbrushing" and "vegetable rotation" criticisms, in the very beginning, so that you'd discredit him and the whole lot down the road, opening the door for the opposition to use the same sorts of arguments, you'd made about them, as they one after one, doled out the same vaugue, useless, rhetoric, that lead to 8 more evaluations, thereafter.

Anonymous said...


George said...

I had not heard of the book,
Whores of the Court: The Fraud of Psychiatric Testimony and the Rape of American Justice.
Here is a review, on her web site:

Boston University psychology professor, Margaret A. Hagen, delivers a damning indictment of the psychologizing - and undermining - of the American legal system through judges' and juries' reliance on the well-paid testimony of self-styled psychological experts. Spouting what often amounts to unscientific, unsubstantiated psychobabble, these 'whores of the court,'she charges, be they psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists or others, often determine whether murderers and rapists are competent to stand trial, whether a batterer will be viewed as likely to offend again after receiving therapy, whether a person experienced mental injury at the hand of a neighbor or an unfeeling institution, whether recovered memories of alleged traumas are genuine. With righteous wrath and devastating wit, Hagen punctures the inflated claims of much expert testimony. She blames liberal and feminist lawyers and apologist psychologists for what she claims is the courts' tendency to exonerate perpetrators of crimes on the grounds that they are victims of mental illness, dysfunctional families or economically disadvantaged backgrounds. This sweeping critique should stir national debate.