RESPONDING TO THE CALL FOR CHILD CUSTODY EVALUATORS TO JUSTIFY THE REASON FOR THEIR PROFESSIONAL EXISTENCE: SOME THOUGHTS ON KELLY AND RAMSEY (2009)
William G. Austin
Kelly and Ramsey (2009) propose that it is time to examine the costs and benefits courts and participants derive from child custody evaluations. A structure for a research program was suggested. This article endorses this call for such an examination on the system that provides for forensic mental health evaluations for custody disputes. There is a need to examine the costs and benefits of various types of approaches that are emerging, including the comprehensive evaluation and brief, focused evaluations. This article suggests that there is a need for forensic quality control of the work product that is produced by evaluators. Courts are cognizant of the need to encourage settlement between parties, but they also need to be accurate in making judicial determinations that will be in the best interests of children. Quality evaluations are a cornerstone in working toward this goal. Kelly and Ramsey are mindful of the need for evaluations to facilitate settlement, but also to get it right for the court on accurate predictions about children's developmental outcomes.
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