blog home Child custody Do I have to go through a psychological examination to get custody?
Posted by Thomas Huguenor on Sep 1, 2019 in Custody
When parents cannot agree on a custody agreement, family courts often order a psychological assessment to determine which custody agreement is in the best interests of the child. In such cases, custody auditors are used to conduct the assessment process. These evaluators use psychological tests, interviews, and ratings to determine the fitness of each parent applying for custody. There are some questions about the accuracy and validity of these ratings on which custody decisions can be based.
If you are involved in a custody battle in California, it is important to be represented by an experienced attorney. Contact Huguenor Mattis, APC at (858) 458-9500 for an experienced San Diego custody attorney by your side.
What do custody officers do?
Custody officers have specific responsibilities in a psychological assessment that is conducted to determine custody. The evaluators must, among other things:
- As much as possible, limit the psychological trauma to the child.
- Provide an analysis in accordance with the court’s requirements, including an explanation of how the interpretations and results relate to the child’s developmental needs, how the child relates to each parent, what quality of environment each parent provides can, and feedback from the child regarding the court-administered issues.
- Review any previous law enforcement or government agency records related to the issues.
- Observe the interactions between each parent and the child.
- Interview both parents either individually or together.
- Share the historical parenting the child experienced.
- Report concerns about mental illness, domestic violence, child abuse, or substance abuse.
- Interview other people outside the immediate family, such as B. siblings, stepparents, etc. to collect information and observations.
- If necessary, provide a temporary or provisional custody recommendation.
Problems with custody reviews
As noted in a recent article by a licensed therapist published in The Sun, psychological custody tests can sometimes produce misleading results. In these tests, victims of domestic violence often appear overreactive, fearful, or paranoid, while the perpetrators appear calm, thoughtful, and methodical.
Another problem is the possibility of evaluator bias. As outlined in a Huffington Post article, the primary purpose of custody assessments is to provide the court with neutral, objective information and expert opinion when a custody battle involves allegations of physical or emotional harm to the child. To serve this purpose, custody auditors need to be as free from prejudice as possible. However, some custody auditing organizations edit all attorney names from all papers and documents the reviewers receive in order to maintain an objective, unbiased perspective. This practice is based on “compelling research” showing that custodians can be biased for or against a particular parent based on their likes or dislikes towards the attorney representing that parent. The question is, how many other biases do custodians have that can affect the results of the assessment?
What role does your lawyer play in assessing child custody?
Family courts can select an appraiser or request the parties to provide a list of appraisers for the judge to choose from. Our San Diego custody attorneys can help you select an appropriate appraiser for your custody review. We can also make suggestions based on our experience with a particular evaluator. If you disagree with the reviewer’s report, we can disprove the results on your behalf. In this situation, another psychiatrist will review the assessment and testify in court about his shortcomings or problems. Ultimately, the judge will decide on custody of your child. Call Huguenor Mattis, APC today to speak to a veteran family law attorney in San Diego for in-depth legal guidance for your custody review.