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The role of a forensic psychologist in a child custody case

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2020 | Family Law |

Going through a divorce in California is hard enough. When the divorcing parties cannot reach an agreement about child custody, the situation can become even more complicated. In the most difficult custody disputes, a forensic psychologist may come in to offer an expert opinion.

What is a forensic psychologist?

A forensic psychologist investigates and assesses individual personalities and relationships so that they can offer expert testimony. In a divorce case that involves children, a forensic psychologist may conduct interviews of both parents and the children. The forensic psychologist may also interview other people involved in a child’s life, which might include:

  • Teachers
  • Coaches
  • Babysitters
  • Doctors
  • Counselors
  • Other family members
  • Friends

In a child custody case, the forensic psychologist tries to determine the strengths and weaknesses of each parent so that they can offer an opinion about where the child should live. If there are questions about the psychological stability of a parent, the psychologist may conduct a psychological assessment of the parent and offer testimony on that.

Who hires a forensic psychologist?

Enlisting the help of a forensic psychologist is often the last resort in child custody cases that cannot achieve resolution through mediation. Attorneys for both parents may enter a mutual agreement for the evaluation or a judge may order the evaluation.

Will a forensic psychologist help?

Expert testimony from a forensic psychologist could potentially help a parent in their child custody dispute. However, the neutral opinion of the psychologist could also go in favor of the other parent’s demands, depending on what the evaluation reveals. A lawyer may be able to help a divorcing parent decide whether it is a good idea to work with a forensic psychologist.