Family Evaluation in Child Custody Mediation, Arbitration, and Litigation

The Classic Volume on Conducting Child Custody Evaluations


  • The impartial examiner vs. the advocate
  • Setting up an impartial evaluation
  • Interviewing parents
  • Evaluating children
  • Alternative system for resolving child custody disputes
  • Mediation
  • Recommendations for judges

Published seven years after its earlier edition, this book provides extensive revision and expansion of the material provided in the earlier volume - modifications warranted by the rapid growth of the field and Dr. Gardner's further experiences in this area.

The book begins with a review of Dr. Gardner's experiences in the field of child custody litigation. He proposes a three-phase system that would remove child custody evaluations entirely from courtroom litigation, a system that utilizes lawyers and mental health professionals as mediators and members of arbitration and appeals panels. The next chapters are devoted to the details of interviewing the parents, individually and in joint interviews. Next, he describes his interview techniques with children. Techniques for interviewing friends, stepparents, relatives, and the housekeeper are then described. He then details the way he utilizes the collected data for making custody/visitation recommendations. Particular focus is given to the recommendations regarding parental-alienation-syndrome families, which he has divided into three types - each of which requires a different approach by the court and mental health professionals. The next chapter focuses on evaluators' courtroom testimony and provides numerous helpful techniques for providing such difficult testimony. A chapter is devoted to advising judges on interviewing children. Next he focuses on the utilization of his evaluative procedures in the mediation process. The last chapter provides recommendations for change, especially in the education of lawyers and mental health professionals.

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