Ideally, child custody and other family law disputes should be resolved amicably. However, as some Tennessee families have experienced, this is not always the case. When the issues cannot be resolved during mediation and negotiations, experts such as forensic psychologists might be needed to reach a resolution.
How does a forensic psychologist get involved in a custody case?
Sometimes, the judge might order the parties to be interviewed by a forensic psychologist and use the psychologist’s report on the family when deciding on the case. Other times, the parties sign an agreement to involve a forensic psychologist to help them reach an agreement on child custody.
What does a forensic psychologist look for when they interview and observe the parties?
The forensic psychologist will conduct interviews with both parents, the child, extended family members and other community members who are involved in the child’s and family’s life. As well, they will observe the child with each parent and even conduct home visits. There are many reasons the psychologist will do this, including:
- Figuring out the parenting styles of each parent
- Establishing how much parents are willing to encourage their child’s relationship with the other parent
- Assessing the mental health of each parent and the child as well as each parent’s strengths and weaknesses regarding parenting
- Gathering a complete picture of the child and the family’s life
The goal of the psychologist’s report is to help the parents, and in some cases, the judge, to reach a child custody arrangement that works for all involved. The report will always be focused on the child’s best interest.
Sometimes parents are not happy with the outcome and might lash out, including even reporting the psychologist to their licensing board. In others, however, the parents might use the report to reach a settlement and avoid litigation.