chapter  1
6 Pages

What Judges Want (and Children Dream)

Developing the complete story requires evaluating all family members, as well as the partners of parents (whether stepparents or cohabiters) who may have a significant impact on the children who are the subject of the litigation. Developing the complete story also requires employing a variety of assessment tools, including interviews, psychological testing, home visits, and record reviews (see chapters 15, 16, and 17). And it necessitates corroborating the results with collateral sources. If time or resources do not permit a thorough evaluation, the mental health professional should decline to become involved, absent being retained for the limited purpose of assessing a psychological disorder. One-sided evaluations are virtually worthless to judges and impugn the integrity of the evaluator. And, they are rarely child centered. Most importantly, to the extent that such evaluations advance one party's position at the expense of the other's or overlook significant issues for a family, they not only fail to stop, but often escalate the fighting that Jonathan dreamed would end and that judges strive to eradicate.