Thursday, May 07, 2015

Custody evaluators have no reliable research

Philip Greenspun trashes the forensic psychologists who do child custody evaluations:
Lawyers and judges whom we interviewed were skeptical regarding the value of court-appointed psychologists. Here was a typical litigator’s perspective: “They have no reliable research. They have no long-term research. There is no proof that psychology and psychiatric professionals are any better predictors of parenting than lay judges. [divorce psychology/custody/GAL work] is a wildly expensive industry that has grown up based mostly on hocus pocus. ‘Best interest of the child’ is a legal term, not a psychological term yet we are turning to psychologists to tell the court what is best for a child.” Psychologists who got paid to testify in court spoke confidently of their ability to deliver value. Psychologists who were not being paid to do this work spoke scornfully of their colleagues who were. Linda Nielsen, professor at Wake Forest: “”Anyone who tells you that they’ve checked their biases at the door is an idiot. Evaluators have their own prejudices.” Joyanna Silberg, who has written extensively on child abuse: “Psychologists have sold their souls. I will not do custody evaluations. It is ridiculous to look into which parent is feeding sugared cereals. I will not pretend that I have divine power.”
This quackery reflects badly on the whole profession.

1 comment:

HeligKo said...

My case is walking down this path. I am hopeful that this person's bias is different than what I have encountered thus far. It really can't get worse, so why not spend a little more money I don't have. The truth is that most custody cases should be thrown out, and the parents told that they can choose the default 50/50 schedule provided by the court or agree to one they like better. Unless there are actual criminal convictions that put the kids at risk, family court needs to get out of the business of judging parents.