Practice parameters for child custody evaluation

S. P. Herman, J. E. Dunne, W. Ayres, V. Arnold, E. Benedek, R. S. Benson, W. Bernet, G. A. Bernstein, E. Bryant, O. Bukstein, R. L. Gross, R. King, J. Kinlan, H. Leonard, W. Licamele, J. McClellan, K. Shaw, L. Haller, D. Schesky, L. E. SloanC. M. Miles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


These practice parameters are presented as a guide for clinicians evaluating the often delicate and complex issues surrounding a child custody dispute. The historical basis of child custody and the various judicial presumptions that have guided courts are reviewed. The differences between performing child custody evaluation and engaging in traditional clinical practice are emphasized. Issues that are common to all child custody disputes are presented, including continuity and quality of attachments, preference, parental alienation, special needs of children, education, gender issues, sibling relationships, parents' physical and mental health, parents' work schedules, parents' finances, styles of parenting and discipline, conflict resolution, social support systems, cultural and ethnic issues, ethics and values, and religion. In addition, special issues that complicate custody evaluations are discussed, including infants in custody disputes, homosexual parents, grandparents' rights, parental kidnaping, relocation problems, allegations of sexual abuse, and advances in reproductive technology, such as frozen embryos, oocyte donation, and artificial insemination. An outline is provided that describes the complete evaluation process, from assessing referrals and planning a strategy through conducting clinical interviews, writing the report, and testifying in court.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57S-68S
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number10 SUPPL.
StatePublished - 1997


  • Child custody
  • Court
  • Forensic psychiatry
  • Guidelines
  • Joint custody
  • Parenting
  • Practice parameters


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