Criminal Psychology
Chapter 9
Child Custody and Related Decisions
Talbot
Kellogg Community College
Child Custody – “A thankless job”.
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Why?
“It is my least favorite area.” Dr. Lenore Walker
Children
Embryos
High profile, high emotion cases.
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O.J. Simpson, 1996
Elian Gonzales
The Roles of a Psychologist
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Marriage Counselor
Mediator
Child Therapist
Court Appointed Evaluator
Expert Witness
Applied Researcher
Marriage Counselor
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Definition: Marriage counseling is a type of psychotherapy for
a married couple or established partners that tries to resolve
problems in the relationship. Typically, two people attend
counseling sessions together to discuss specific issues.
Goals:
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Identify issues related to marital problems.
Improve communication and empathy skills.
Decrease stressors affecting marital relationships.
Encourage a successful marriage type.
Marriages
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Successful Types
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Unsuccessful Types
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Validating
Volatile
Avoidant
Hostile Engaged
Hostile Detached
Biggest Difference?
Marriage Counselor
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Definition: Marriage counseling is a type of psychotherapy for
a married couple or established partners that tries to resolve
problems in the relationship. Typically, two people attend
counseling sessions together to discuss specific issues.
Goals:
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Concerns:
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Identify issues related to marital problems.
Improve communication.
Decrease stressors.
Encourage a successful marriage.
2 Types of Individuals seeking services.
Outcome expectations.
Testimony in court.
Dual Relationships:
Mediator
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Mediation: An alternative to litigation
Definition: Mediation is facilitated negotiation, whose object is the consensual resolution of a
dispute on terms that the parties themselves agree upon. It is a form of alternative dispute
resolution in which a neutral party (a mediator) selected by the parties seeks to determine the
interests of the parties, discover which of these interests may be shared, and alert them to a
resolution that may further those interests.
Benefits of Mediation:
 Less formal and less adversarial.
 Private and confidential.
 Typically express greater satisfaction with the outcomes.
 Cases get settled more quickly.
Goal: Assist in attaining resolution between parties by addressing
differences, offering possible solutions and developing an
agreement.
 Problems?
 Advocate? Allow for victimization?
Child Therapist
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Divorce as a traumatic event.
Expectations following a divorce:
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Change in parenting styles.
Behavioral issues.
School difficulties.
Relationship issues between the child and
parents.
Increased chance of adult divorce.
Sleeper Effect (2/3rds of women 19 – 23)
Problems?
Court Appointed Evaluator
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2 prong responsibility:
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Evaluate
Recommend
Rarely utilized for this purpose:
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Why?
Often determined in the period of mediation or
bargaining.
 It is a decision based upon responsibility and moral
guidance.
 Psychologists often misrepresent themselves and
their abilities in these areas.
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Evaluation
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The psychologist must approach this task,
“unburdened by any particular point of view or
preset conclusions.”
What can interfere with this charge?
Characteristics:
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Identification of issues and problems.
Credible and well-reasoned (supported conclusions).
Fair and unbiased.
A psychological report which avoids psychological
jargon.
Contain clear recommendations for the court based
upon the data.
Recommendations
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Legal custody – the right to make legal
decisions for the child.
Physical custody – where the child resides
on a day-to-day basis.
Sole custody v. Joint or Shared custody.
Divided custody
Expert Witness
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Stepping into the Lion’s Den.
Problems of being hired by one side or the other.
Problems with being court appointed evaluator.
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The nature of the issues (i.e. custody) being evaluated.
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Prized possessions (18th century)
Mother’s rights – Tender-years doctrine (Early 19th century)
Best Interest of the Child (1970’s to present)
Custody Consideration
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The mental and physical health of all individuals.
The child’s adjustment.
The parent’s ability to provide food, clothing, medication, etc…
Parental lifestyle and subsequent ability to interact and
interrelate.
The wishes of the parents and children.
Steps in the evaluative process
Other areas of contention or debate
1.
2.
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Custody for a mixed race couple.
Custody for children of parents with physical or mental health
problems.
Custody issues involving parents who have alternate sexual
orientations.
Custody issues concerning conflicts between the requests of the
child and the recommendations of professionals.
The presence of criminal records.
The consideration of cultural and religious beliefs.
The use of psychological tests and measures (MMPI – 2)
1.
2.
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Parenting satisfaction scale
Parenting stress index
Parent child relationship index
WAIS
Ethical Issues and Temptations
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Recognizing limits and biases
Avoiding dual relationships
Informed consent
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Confidentiality
Custody Evaluation v. Psychological Evaluation
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C.E. – assist the trier of fact in the determination of
what is in the best interest of the child.
P.E. – identify and determine the presence of any
diagnosable condition, or symptoms of mental illness
or defect.
Applied Researcher
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2.
Address or answer questions posed by
the triers of fact which concern issues of
psychology and human behavior.
Comment on available research as it
pertains to the court’s questions without
application to the current case.
What do the clients want?
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The children
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The family fixed.
What do they get?
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The parents
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To win.
What do they get?
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Objective evaluation of their best interest.
A fair and unbiased evaluation.
The judge
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An understanding of the situation or specific
psychological considerations and principles.
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They may ask too much or even encourage dual relationships
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Criminal Psychology - Kellogg Community College