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What is the role of a psychologist in a custody hearing?

Courts in Michigan settle child custody disputes by determining the custody arrangement that represents the best solution for the child. The Michigan Child Custody Act identifies specific factors the court should use to make this determination. In many cases, a forensic psychologist can prove helpful to a child custody case.

The role of a forensic psychologist

Forensic psychologists apply their training in psychology to help resolve family law issues. These experts are useful at evaluating the mindset and behavior of individuals involved in child custody disputes. Forensic psychologists also assess the effect that the court process and subsequent rulings have on the child at the center of the dispute.

The evaluation process

The child custody evaluation completed by a forensic psychologist is extremely valuable when all other determinants have failed to yield a conclusion. A judge possesses the authority to order a child custody evaluation as they see fit. An attorney for one of the parties can also request an evaluation.

Multiple interviews are needed to assess the personality of both parents. By the time the interviews are complete, the forensic psychologist will have a better idea of the strengths and weaknesses of both parents.

Forensic psychologists also spend a considerable amount of time speaking with children involved with custody disputes. Children are often shy about talking with strangers, so it may take a while for the child to feel comfortable enough to share their feelings. A forensic attorney will also speak with the people who know the parents and children best to get a complete view of the situation.

Evaluation results

Both parents and their lawyers will have an opportunity to review the final report from the forensic psychologist. In some cases, a settlement happens not long after this review. If not, a judge will use the information to help with a final judgment.

Individuals involved in a child custody dispute will want to make a strong case to gain favor with the court. Parents looking to secure the custody of a child through court action may benefit from the services of a family law attorney.