Article

Frequency of child custody evaluation complaints and related disciplinary action: A survey of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.

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  • University of Alabama School of Medicine at Birmingham (retired)
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Abstract

Psychologists who conduct child custody evaluations take their practices into a most challenging and stressful area. This study surveyed the 61 member boards of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) about number and category of child custody complaints in the last decade, number of findings against psychologists, and related disciplinary action. Results reveal that psychologists who accept work in this area are extremely likely to also encounter the anguish of defending a related licensure board complaint at some point.

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... Il est reconnu que la pratique de l'expertise psychologique présente des risques pour les professionnels. Plusieurs études montrent que les psychologues qui réalisent des expertises psychologiques sont plus susceptibles de vivre des demandes d'enquêtes (Bow et Quinnell, 2001;Brunet, 2014;Glassman, 1998;Kirkland et Kirkland, 2001). D'ailleurs, les demandes d'enquête en lien à des expertises en matière de garde seraient en hausse aux États-Unis alors qu'elles composent 35 % de l'ensemble des demandes d'enquête en 2001, 49 % en 2007, puis 63 % en 2010 (Bow et Quinnell, 2001;Bow, Gottlieb, Siegel et Noble, 2010). ...
... En effet, il est suggéré que les situations hautement conflictuelles dans lesquelles les psychologues experts sont impliqués les placeraient à risque de commettre des fautes déontologiques (Johnston, Roseby et Kuehnle, 2009). Même si la proportion de demandes d'enquête qui résultent en sanctions ou en interventions disciplinaires est mince (Kirkland et Kirkland, 2001;Poitras et Giroux-Benoit, 2016), les enjeux déontologiques susceptibles de poser problème au cours d'une démarche sont multiples de même que la tension vécue par ces psychologues. Considérant les conséquences émotionnelles et professionnelles rapportées par les professionnels confrontés à une demande d'enquête, il est judicieux de soutenir les réflexions éthiques et déontologiques inhérentes à ce champ de pratique (Kirkland et Kirkland, 2001;Montgomery, Cupit et Wimberley, 1999 'Association of Family andConciliation Courts (1994, 2006) et de l'American Psychological Association (APA, 1994) et s'attardent aux pratiques attendues dans la réalisation d'un mandat et aux comportements professionnels à adopter. ...
... Même si la proportion de demandes d'enquête qui résultent en sanctions ou en interventions disciplinaires est mince (Kirkland et Kirkland, 2001;Poitras et Giroux-Benoit, 2016), les enjeux déontologiques susceptibles de poser problème au cours d'une démarche sont multiples de même que la tension vécue par ces psychologues. Considérant les conséquences émotionnelles et professionnelles rapportées par les professionnels confrontés à une demande d'enquête, il est judicieux de soutenir les réflexions éthiques et déontologiques inhérentes à ce champ de pratique (Kirkland et Kirkland, 2001;Montgomery, Cupit et Wimberley, 1999 'Association of Family andConciliation Courts (1994, 2006) et de l'American Psychological Association (APA, 1994) et s'attardent aux pratiques attendues dans la réalisation d'un mandat et aux comportements professionnels à adopter. Ces Lignes directrices (OPQ et al., 2006) demeurent l'ouvrage de référence pour guider l'expert devant se prononcer sur les meilleures modalités de garde et de droits d'accès (Poitras et Blanchet, 2017). ...
Article
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L’expertise psychologique s’avère essentielle afin de soutenir les décisions émises par les tribunaux. Les recommandations qui en découlent sont déterminantes pour les juges, les procureurs et les clients qui font l’objet de l’évaluation. Le psychologue expert, qui doit prendre en considération plusieurs points de vue divergents, sera inévitablement confronté à des dilemmes éthiques et déontologiques au cours de sa pratique. Le présent article présente trois vignettes cliniques, dans lesquelles seront abordés le conflit d’intérêts, le consentement, la notion de client et l’obligation d’impartialité. Enfin, nous nous pencherons sur les balises et réflexions qui devraient encadrer la prise de décision.
... Such data is useful in the process of exploring, assessing, and establishing routine practice patterns. Base rate data and related information concerning the frequency and nature of board complaints and lawsuits has been shown to be of prime importance in assisting practitioners in the challenging processes of defending board complaints and civil lawsuits (Kirkland & Kirkland, 2001; Kirkland, Kirkland, & Reaves, 2004). National practice surveys can assist practitioners, licensure boards, professional associations (e.g., the American Psychological Association (APA) and the ABA), attorneys, and even malpractice carriers in the process of handling complaints and civil lawsuits in terms of risk management strategies (Kirkland, Kirkland, & Reaves, 2004). ...
... This national survey found that complaints were rampant, but findings of fault against practitioners were very rare (about a 1% occurrence rate of findings of formal fault). While even frivolous board complaints are not for the faint of heart, the data from this study clearly reveal that if one practices in this area, the CCE practitioner is very likely to encounter a board complaint, but the board complaint is very likely to be dismissed with a finding of " no probable cause " (Kirkland & Kirkland, 2001). We fully expect to see similar trends in the postdivorce world of PC. ...
... All board complaints were dismissed with findings of no probable cause. These risk management numbers compare similarly to the numbers encountered in the CCE field (Kirkland & Kirkland, 2001; Bow & Quinnell, 2001). In the high-risk CCE world, Bow and Quinnell found that 1 in 10 CCE practitioners had encountered a civil lawsuit, while 35% had encountered at least one licensure board complaint. ...
Article
This study summarizes a survey of experienced North American parenting coordinators (PCs). The survey was modeled after a similar seminal study of child custody evaluators (Keilen & Bloom, 1986) and seeks to establish a similar baseline standard in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) court-sanctioned PC practices. Results reveal that PC is being practiced across North America by highly experienced practitioners that are multidisciplinary across legal and mental health professions who work by court order. These PCs work with a specific written PC agreement that specifies basis of authority, scope of authority, terms of service, retainer/fees, and grievance procedures. Results characterize PC as an increasingly established hybrid ADR court-sanctioned role that is effective precisely because of accessibility to families, the unique knowledge base of the family law professional concerning the dynamics of divorcing families, and the court-granted authority to help families resolve disputes that are generally more familial and psychological than legal in nature.
... The new reporting and categorization system seeks to correct that shortcoming by forcing member boards to specify the nature of infractions. In a large-scale survey, Kirkland and Kirkland (2001) surveyed all ASPPB member boards concerning the frequency and disposition of complaints to state and provincial psychology boards in the area of child custody evaluation. The study surveyed all 61 ASPPB member boards about the actual number of complaints filed with each licensure board between 1990 and 1999, the nature of each complaint, the number of complaints that resulted in disciplinary action, and the types of sanctions that were attached to each case. ...
... These findings and recommendations indicate a need for further research as well. Kirkland and Kirkland (2001) demonstrated that child custody evaluators have a high likelihood of encountering board complaints, but a relatively low risk for actual disciplinary sanction (which may be little comfort for many practitioners). What is the relationship between complaint frequency and actual findings of probable cause with related sanctions in other areas of disciplinary concern, such as dual relationships or breaches of confidentiality? ...
Article
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This article reviews recent trends in the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards' Disciplinary Data System--a record of sanctions against psychologists. Review of these data revealed problems with the usefulness of the categorization and reporting system. As a result, a new classification system was devised, based on base-rate descriptive data, and is presented here. Implications for psychology boards, ethics training, and professional practice are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
... Thirty-nine percent of Australian experts reported having complaints made against them in this jurisdiction, which is similar to international findings Ackerman & Pritzl, 2011). Fortunately, all complaints were later dismissed, which again is consistent with the American experience, with probable cause found in only 1% of cases in Kirkland and Kirkland's (2001) survey. However, as noted by Kirkland and Kirkland (2001), the findings that complaints are unlikely to result in serious disciplinary action may bring little joy to the practitioner in administrative purgatory during the response-and-defense period of the complaint. ...
... Fortunately, all complaints were later dismissed, which again is consistent with the American experience, with probable cause found in only 1% of cases in Kirkland and Kirkland's (2001) survey. However, as noted by Kirkland and Kirkland (2001), the findings that complaints are unlikely to result in serious disciplinary action may bring little joy to the practitioner in administrative purgatory during the response-and-defense period of the complaint. Furthermore, such findings highlight the need for protection of psychologists in this area against vexatious complaints. ...
... In a large-scale survey, Kirkland and Kirkland (2001) surveyed all ASPPB member boards concerning the frequency and disposition of complaints to state and provincial psychology boards in the area of child custody evaluation. The study surveyed all 61 ASPPB member boards about the actual number of complaints filed with each licensure board between 1990 and 1999, the nature of each complaint, the number of complaints that resulted in disciplinary action, and the types of sanctions that were attached to each case. ...
... These findings and recommendations indicate a need for further research as well. Kirkland and Kirkland (2001) demonstrated that child custody evaluators have a high likelihood of encountering board complaints, but a relatively low risk for actual disciplinary sanction (which may be little comfort for many practitioners). What is the relationship between complaint frequency and actual findings of probable cause with related sanctions in other areas of disciplinary concern, such as dual relationships or breaches of confidentiality? ...
... In 1998 Glassman reported that vulnerability to ethics complaints remains an occupational hazard for the private practitioner who engages in custody evaluations. Kirkland and Kirkland (2001) surveyed the 61 member boards of the Association of State and Provincial Psy- chology Boards (ASPPB) about the number and category of child custody com- plaints in the previous decade. They report that psychologists who accept work in this area "are extremely likely to also encounter the anguish of defending a related licensure board." ...
Chapter
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This chapter addresses the unique challenges found in the performance of custody evaluations in cases where parental alienation (PA) is alleged. Such cases require attention to specific literature and expertise, which are described. The chapter is divided into four parts. Part One describes the long historical presence of PA. Part Two addresses the expertise necessary to perform such evaluations, and Part Three outlines steps necessary for their performance. Part Four then focuses on how all of this material can be best presented to the court so as to most likely produce relief to the victims of PA.
... However, this does not diminish the emotional anguish and stress of facing such a complaint. Child custody evaluators may attempt to reduce risk by taking defensive steps, such as making sure their work complies with national guidelines, using multiple data sources (i.e., collateral data), not over-or under-interpreting test data, avoiding any role conflict or perceived bias, and staying current with the literature (Kirkland & Kirkland, 2001). Even so, as noted by Gould and Martindale (2007), child custody evaluators should anticipate an eventual and inevitable complaint. ...
Article
Full-text available
This study explored how psychologists developed and managed a child custody practice. A national sample of 138 psychologists obtained from public access referral sites and a child custody listserv responded to the survey, with a total sample response rate of 44%. The majority of respondents gradually developed their child custody practices as an outgrowth of other practice areas. Prerequisite training for many respondents seemed insufficient, but they became increasingly invested in professional development over time, despite the majority's devoting less than half their time to this professional activity. Respondents reported satisfaction in conducting child custody evaluations but also saw it as a stressful and high-risk type of practice, as was evidenced by the high number of licensing board, ethics, and malpractice complaints reported.
... onal harm. Although his sentiments were described 15 years ago, most seasoned evaluators would certainly agree that his concerns are still relevant to the custody evaluator working today. The Ethics Committee of the APA summarizes its activities each year (APA, 2002), and complaints about CCEs rank second only to complaints about sexual misconduct. Kirkland and Kirkland (2001) conducted a survey of 61 board members of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards, and their study revealed a total of 2,413 complaints against psychologists performing CCEs among 34 licensure boards between 1990 and 1999. While the psychology boards they studied only issued discipline in one percent of the cases, none ...
Article
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Conducting child custody evaluations is one of the most complex, challenging, and sometimes risky professional endeavors that a mental health professional can perform. This article examines the professional and personal challenges which may be encountered by the evaluator. In addition to discussing the role requirements and need to maintain awareness of bias and countertransference, challenges such as coping with state board or ethics complaints and possible risks to personal safety are also addressed. Suggestions for risk management and coping with the demands of these assessments are offered, as well as the benefits and rewards of engaging in this important work.
... In one study, 9.7% of the complaints against the psychologists were for an alleged breach of confidentiality (Montgomery, Cupit, & Wimberley, 1999). Kirkland and Kirkland's (2001) study based on data collected from 34 states and provinces found an "astounding" number of licensing board complaints against psychologists performing child custody evaluations. The study noted a "low threshold for filing formal complaints" (p. ...
Article
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Retaliation against child abuse reporters occurs despite current immunity protections. Immunity protections must be expanded and enforced.
... When evaluators first began assisting judges in adjudicating custody and access disputes, evaluator input was widely appreciated. In the last decade complaints against evaluators have increased dramatically ( Kirkland & Kirkland, 2001), as have malpractice actions ( Marine & Bogie, 2004); attorneys, often reinforced by mental health professionals, have issued a call for clinical humility and judicial vigilance ( Gould & Martindale, 2005); and our assessment methods have been criticized by experienced professionals ( Emery, Otto, & O'Donohue, 2005;Otto & Martindale, 2006). Most importantly, judges, to whom evaluators' reports are submitted and before whom evaluators testify, have expressed their dissatisfaction with the quality of the evaluations being conducted. ...
... Mental health professionals and forensic psychologists seek to understand and give meaning to the information obtained from various sources (i.e., parents, children, close relatives, teachers) (American Psychological Association [APA], 2009[APA], , 2010, using different methodologies such as interviews, planned or spontaneous observations and psychological tests (APA, 2009(APA, , 2010Tobin, Seals, & Vincent, 2011). This information will be materialized in the form of a report, which is an important element in the judicial decision in accordance with the superior interest of the child (Kirkland & Kirkland, 2001;Simões et al., 2006). According to APA guidelines (2009,2010) for the forensic expert practice of psychologists in child custody cases, the evaluation should focus on the parenting skills, the psychological needs and the adaptation of the child. ...
Article
In Portugal, there is a gap regarding psychological tests validated for forensic contexts, particularly those related to child custody issues. The Parent–Child Relationship Inventory (PCRI) is one of the most used instruments in child custody contexts. This study aimed to analyze the psychometric properties of PCRI in a Portuguese forensic sample. PCRI factorial structure and psychometric properties were analyzed in a sample of 144 parents involved in child custody assessments. The questionnaire showed good internal consistency, except for the parental support, autonomy, and role orientation scales. It also showed good discriminant capacity. The confirmatory factor analysis did not replicate the 7-factor model proposed by Gerard. The results were discussed based on the use of PCRI in the context of child custody assessment.
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The provision of psychological (e.g., psychotherapy, coparenting, mediation, collaborative divorce, child custody evaluation) services for families of divorce are growing specialties for many clinical and forensic psychologists. However, practice in domestic relations psychology, such as divorce and custody assessment and testimony, is a high-risk venture for incurring ethics complaints and law suits. The lead article and the three commentaries that follow enumerate the various roles practitioners might play, clarify how each role requires specific skill sets that may be outside one’s particular competence and necessitate additional training, describe how countertransferential issues arise, urge meticulous record keeping, discuss some of the subtleties of confidentiality and the releasing of information, describe how transparency in clarifying expectations leads to a lowering of contentiousness, and provide tips for divorce and forensic practice. The special challenges associated with psychologists being tempted to move beyond their role on a case and those of particularly high-risk situations (e.g., complaints of child abuse or domestic violence) are also discussed. Suggestions are offered to help psychologists better serve the public while taking steps to better inoculate themselves from complaints. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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This book provides a step-by-step child custody assessment protocol that protects families and at the same time helps new evaluators minimize the likelihood of committing ethical infractions or malpractice. For mental health professionals interested in beginning a career in forensic child custody assessment, balancing the legal and clinical issues that surround family evaluations and custody disputes can be complicated. Without specialized knowledge, the risk of causing undue emotional injury increases. The book puts family litigation into context and reviews the legal evidentiary standards that pertain to psychological testing, scientific evidence, and expert witness testimony used in the court system. Although written for the novice evaluator, this book enhances the clinical skills of even the most seasoned evaluator because it offers a complete overview of the judicial process and the evolving change in the standards of practice. The authors include a sample written evaluation report and other forms that readers can adapt for use in their own practices. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Psychologists who conduct child custody evaluations take their practices into a most challenging and stressful area. This study surveyed the 61 member boards of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) about number and category of child custody complaints in the last decade, number of findings against psychologists, and related disciplinary action. Results reveal that psychologists who accept work in this area are extremely likely to also encounter the anguish of defending a related licensure board complaint at some point. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Parenting Coordination (PC) is a well-established ADR process that involves court-appointed roles for family law experts across mental health and legal professions. PC involves a legal psychological hybrid case management role for practitioners that is effective precisely because of greater access and availability for families, unique knowledge base of the family law professional concerning dynamics of divorcing families, and the court-granted authority to help families resolve common post-divorce disputes. This paper compares the growth of the PC role across crucial areas of practice in different jurisdictions.
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In order to provide the highest quality services when court-ordered to do child custody evaluations, it is important for mental health professionals, particularly psychologists who do psychological testing, to be clear about the ethical requirements associated with the child custody evaluation process. They should be impartial, thorough, and competent focusing on the best interest of the child. Mental health professionals have been accused of unethical and illegal behavior when doing such evaluations, in part, due to the anger associated with the outcome and/or the process. The ethical issues most associated with licensing board and ethics committee complaints and civil lawsuits focus on bias, informed consent, lack of symmetry, timeliness, finances, confidentiality, negligence, chemical dependency, multiple relationships, and failure to report/omissions.
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Working with children who have irrationally rejected a parent is an emerging area of practice with unique risks. The dynamics that drive false allegations about a parent also drive accusations against professionals who participate in a process to reunify the children with that parent. This article discusses protective measures to reduce risks of false accusations, character assassination, harassment, and violence. Recommendations are offered for organizations charged with investigating complaints. Agencies that do an inadequate job of handling such complaints may harm the public by driving innovators from the field and reducing the availability of programs that have helped many families.
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In the last decade complaints against evaluators have increased dramatically as have malpractice actions. There is much controversy concerning the qualifications and methods employed by evaluators. It is proposed that legislatures and court systems develop standards to be used in regulating the professional preparation of and conduct of those who perform child custody evaluations. Professional organizations representing specific disciplines are torn by competing responsibilities - an obligation to the public and accountability to their members. They are pressured by their own members not to create practice-related documents that may complicate the lives of practitioner-members. It is recommended that courts, legislatures, and regulatory agencies use the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts' Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluation in developing appropriate standards and regulations. The process by which the model standards were developed is described.
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In the context of litigated custody disputes, there are important differences between forensic consultants and expert witnesses. They address different subject matter, the discoverability of their files is different, and their expressed opinions are aimed at different targets. Once reviewers convey their initial impressions of an evaluator's work, retaining counsel must decide in which one of these two conflicting roles the reviewer will be most useful. Forensic consultants can provide invaluable assistance to counsel regarding an evaluator's background, methodology, opinion formulation, opinion communication, and possible multiple roles. Principles of the forensic consultation process require that consultants: (1) identify the required expertise; (2) identify the relevant forensic issue; (3) use multiple sources of data; and (4) focus on relevance, reliability, and sufficiency.
Article
This chapter delineates the guidelines for child custody evaluators from a variety of associations and professional groups, including the American Psychological Association (APA), the APA specialty guidelines, the Association for Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC), and various other professional associations. Issues covered include an understanding of Daubert and Frye, communication and confidentiality. In addition, the chapter discusses record keeping, release of records, informed consent, collateral interviews and record review, ex parte communication and the presentation of findings. Other issues addressed include the employment of diverse methods of data collection, the use of interviews and psychological tests, as well as telephone interviews. The assessment of domestic violence, substance abuse, child abuse, and sexual orientation issues are also covered from an ethical perspective. In addition, specialized areas for custody evaluation are explored. This includes removal/relocation cases, parental alienation, supervised visitation, and assessment of mental illness. Role conflict and dual role are also discussed. Finally, the role of bias, including gender bias, cultural bias, recency bias, and confirmatory bias are cited as significant issues.
Book
Whether assessing general family functioning or specific areas of conflict, professionals ordering, conducting, or reviewing child custody evaluations require sound knowledge of three interrelated fields: up-todate legal issues, psychological findings, and forensic procedures. A Comprehensive Guide to Child Custody Evaluations covers these three essential areas to walk readers through the evaluation process clearly and concisely. This unique interdisciplinary book emphasizes professional ethics, children's psychological well-being, and clear communication among all parties as keys to resolving disputes with efficiency and thoroughness, and minimizing the chances of children and their families getting lost in red tape. Among the Guide's features: Legal standards for custody evaluations and recommendations. Procedures for conducting custody evaluations, with the latest data on psychological testing, interviewing children, and home observations. Guidelines for writing: evaluation reports, orders for evaluatio s, parenting plans. Legal and ethical standards for critiquing evaluation reports. Current legal and research-based information on special issues, including alternative family arrangements, medical problems, child sexual abuse, estrangement, and parental abduction. Reference and resource sections provide additional support. The Guide's interdisciplinary approach will be of invaluable aid to forensic mental health professionals in conducting evaluations and communicating results, family and probate judges in ordering and assessing custody evaluations, and family attorneys in deciding how to approach various aspects of the family situation, whether to request a custody evaluation, and how to proceed after the custody evaluation is done. © 2008 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. All rights reserved.
Article
As the number of high-conflict separation cases continues to rise, mental health counselors are increasingly called upon to assist courts with child custody evaluations. Counselors can provide family courts with invaluable services either as treating or as forensic experts. Because each of these roles is unique, however, it is imperative that counselors who provide services to family courts understand the differences. Ethical, legal, and malpractice risks also increase considerably for counselors who provide courts with expert testimony. The purpose of this paper is to (a) discuss the central differences between the roles of counselor and of child custody evaluator, and (b) describe best practices for conducting child custody evaluations.
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Four hundred nineteen members of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) identify themselves as custody evaluators in the 1999–2000 membership directory. One hundred of these custody evaluators were randomly selected for inclusion in this survey of the use of collateral contact interviews in child custody evaluations. Fifty-three of those selected responded to a brief questionnaire concerning their use and views of collaterals. All evaluators reported use of the collateral interview. Most practitioners reported using both personal and telephone interviews. Respondents indicated that they interview family and friends, but routinely place greater trust in more objective sources that have no obvious, vested interest in outcome. More experienced evaluators reported evolving toward use of written questionnaires for use in interviewing collateral sources for purposes of risk management as well as increasing relevance and convergent validity.
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Forensic mental health professionals (FMHPs) are frequently appointed by domestic courts to perform evaluations and related services to families in the midst of pre- or post-divorce developments. Clearly, this is one of the most stressful experiences that divorcing couples and their children encounter psychologically, economically, socially, and developmentally. Court-appointed FMHPs have a strong burden of responsibility to these family members to provide highly ethical, professional, and objective services to such participants. However, research demonstrates that regardless of the level of objectivity and accuracy of findings, FMHPs are frequently caught in the crossfire between parties and may be the subject of civil lawsuits and ethics complaints. This paper reviews the need for court-appointed FMHPs to have quasi-judicial immunity to protect them from frivolous lawsuits. Recent case law is reviewed, revealing that FMHPs in court-appointed roles serve as an extension of the court and therefore are protected from civil liability when they function within the community-accepted and ethical boundaries of the role.
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This paper offers a brief review of the current literature related to the interviewing of children during child custody evaluations. In particular, the paper highlights several key issues and concerns, and provides a series of recommendations for professionals working in this area. These recommendations (which apply to children aged 3 to 12 years) are organised under the following headings: (a) establish rapport using broad open-ended questions, (b) make the purpose and ground rules of the interview clear to the child, (c) allow the child's perspective be heard without expecting an outright custody preference, (d) demonstrate a willingness to consider all reasonable perspectives or hypotheses about what has occurred, (e) try not to exacerbate the child's stress or guilt, (f) pursue all possible explanations for a child's report, irrespective of whether there are clear signs of “coaching” or contamination, (g) obtain appropriate training in the use of forensic interviewing techniques, and (h) engage in research on the impact of children's participation in custody cases.
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This paper reviews areas of risk management and aspirational ethics as related to the relatively new practice of court-appointed parenting coordinators. Risk management and aspirational ethics are defined and related to this area of post-divorce professional activity. Incidence data concerning licensure board complaints and civil lawsuits are reviewed. Guidelines which incorporate risk management and aspirational ethics regarding parenting coordinating are reviewed.
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This study explored licensing board complaints among psychologists (N = 117) involved in child custody practice. Findings indicated that a high number of participants (63%) had been subject to licensing board complaints. However, of those complaint cases described, only a small number resulted in disciplinary action. Participants identified warning signs for possible complaints along with risk management strategies they utilized. Though participants viewed the complaint process as stressful, they maintained a very favorable view of licensing boards and professional insurance companies. A notable finding was that one-third of those who received complaints lacked liability insurance coverage. Implications for child custody practice are outlined.
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The author reviews research on confirmatory bias, discusses its role in evaluations of comparative custodial fitness, and creates a distinction between confirmatory bias and confirmatory distortion, in which there is an indisputably conscious endeavor to find and report information that is supportive of one's favored hypothesis. Information is provided concerning the dynamics of confirmatory bias and distortion, the ways in which these phenomena manifest themselves, and the ways in which they can be addressed by reviewers and by cross-examining attorneys.
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Functioning as a Parenting Coordinator is an increasingly encountered professional role for attorneys and mental health professionals. The role can be both rewarding and challenging. This study explores the stresses and challenges to Parenting Coordinator practitioners and reviews self-reported positive coping strategies across a sample of experienced North American Parenting Coordinator professionals. Results consistently revealed that high levels of effective practice and low levels of associated stress were consistently associated with firm Parenting Coordinator role definitions and boundaries, thorough education of participants, standardized office protocols, use of Parenting Coordinator agreements, and a highly organized filing system.
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Research looking at the effect of complaints on senior medical staff has shown that while there is important information to be gained from patient criticisms of medical care, they are often not well received by doctors. There is no information on the effects of complaints on junior medical staff and those undergoing vocational training in New Zealand. The aim of this study is to assess the impact of complaints on trainees in general surgery. A questionnaire was devised and sent to all advanced general surgical trainees in New Zealand. There were four sections to the questionnaire covering background, professional life, family life, and personal health. The scale was semantically anchored at not applicable, strongly agree, agree, neither, disagree, and strongly disagree. Following electronic mailings of the questionnaire at three different times, 35 of 58 (60%) questionnaires were returned of which 21 (60%) of the respondents had received at least one major complaint; 10 (29%) indicated they had experienced one complaint; 4 (11%) reported 2 complaints; 3 (9%) had received 3 complaints; and 1 (3%) reported 4 complaints. None of the respondents believed that the complaint had improved their surgical training. Thirty-one (86%) respondents believed that the complaint had made them practice more defensively; 13 (38%) felt that the complaint had a negative effect of future doctor-patient relationships; and 15 (43%) felt a lack of trust with such relationships. Twenty-three (67%) felt decreased enjoyment with their training and 18 (53%) felt the complaint had a negative effect on their family. Twenty-seven (78%) felt depressed over the complaint, with 18 (52%) feeling a lack of support and being alone with the experience. Trainees receiving complaints find them difficult to deal with; they incur an emotional cost on the doctor and possible future doctor patient relationships. Thus it is important that trainee doctors receive support and guidance throughout this difficult and stressful event.
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Reports the number and types of ethical complaints investigated. In addition, the Ethics Committee reports on significant activities in 1998, the processing of cases, continued self-analytic review, and on the continuing process of revision of the "Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct."
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Data compiled by the American Psychological Association (APA) revealed that 7%–10% of ethics complaints filed were against custody evaluators. Comparative data from various state and provincial psychology boards remain too sketchy to permit an accurate appraisal of this problem at the local level. Nevertheless, vulnerability to ethics complaints remains an occupational hazard for the private practitioner who engages in custody assessment. This article offers practitioners who conduct custody evaluations suggestions for reducing their risk of incurring an ethics complaint and discusses variables to consider when responding to a review board inquiry. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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As psychologists strive to affect human welfare in a positive way, their greater exposure and responsibilities have led to worry about potential malpractice lawsuits and state licensing board complaints. Are psychologists at increasing risk for litigation? What steps can they take to alleviate the stress and worry? A survey of licensed psychologists ( N = 284) explored professional awareness, personal experiences, and practice activities related to complaints, malpractice lawsuits, and risk management. Professional psychologists are urged to stay informed regarding events and activities that may result in lawsuits or complaints and to practice in a manner that best provides protection. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Guidelines for child custody evaluations in divorce proceedings
  • Practice Directorate
  • American Psychological Assn
  • Dc Washington
  • American Psychological Association
Psychological evaluations for the courts: A handbook for mental health professionals and lawyers
  • G B Melton
  • J Petrila
  • N G Poythress
  • C Slobogin
  • G. B. Melton
  • J. Petrila
  • N. G. Poythress
  • C. Slobogin