Child custody evaluation: A child custody evaluation is on the horizon? Are you ready to take the test?
While most child custody evaluations are accomplished with the assistance of the Friend of the Court, courts and clients often utilize an independent clinical or forensic psychologist to conduct a child custody evaluation, typically, a PhD. Unlike the Friend of the Court, an independent clinical or forensic psychologist performs psychological testing in support of their findings. However, because custody evaluations are costly, time consuming and stressful, they are primarily used in cases where serious concerns are raised concerning parental fitness.
It is important to note that there are no psychological tests that can accurately determine if a particular custody or parenting time arrangement is in the best interest of a child. Rather, psychological testing can help in the formation of a best interest of the child opinion.
Psychological testing may shed light on a parent’s ability to cope with stress, tolerate frustration, understand others, to break routine or experience a full range of emotions.
Judges and lawyers favor objective testing over subjective opinions. So what kind of testing can a parent expect in a child custody evaluation?
- Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory: The MMPI-2 is a type of personality test and is used to assess mental illness. This test was developed in the 1930’s at the University of Minnesota and is one of the most researched psychological tests in existence. The test utilizes 567 test items and takes typically 60-90 minutes to complete. This test is typically administered to parents in a custody battle as it is designed for individuals over the age of 18.
- Rorschach Comprehensive System: The Rorschach test is also known as an inkblot test. Inkblots are presented to the participant and his/her subjective impressions are recorded. This test is often used to compliment the MMPI-2 to confirm or exclude the findings.
- Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III: The MCMI-III is another psychological assessment tool. The MCMI-III differs from other personality tests because it directly tests specific disorders from the DSM-5. The DSM-5 is the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders. The DSM-5 serves as the universal authority for the diagnosis of psychiatric disorders.
Sometimes a child custody evaluation may include psychological testing of a child to help understand the child’s needs or vulnerabilities.
While there are no psychological tests that can accurately determine if a particular custody or parenting time arrangement is in the best interest of a child a child custody evaluation helps answer the question.
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By: Daniel Findling
The Divorce Guy, Michigan Divorce Attorneys and Specialists