DOI: 10.1111/fcre.12772 ISSN: 1531-2445

Are child custody evaluations beneficial to family law judges? A study from the judicial perspective

Tammi Axelson, Jennifer Gentile
  • Law


There is a long history of dissension among legal and mental health professionals about the value of child custody evaluations. Despite frequent use by the courts, the lack of adequate empirical research impedes the ability to validate the efficacy of child custody evaluations. This study investigated the overall value of court‐ordered child custody evaluations by surveying a diverse, national sample of judges to gather data regarding the usefulness, and validity of child custody evaluations. Two hundred and sixty‐eight judges from 42 states completed an anonymous survey. The results indicated that judges find information voiced by the child in question, data obtained from the parent–child observations, and collateral data obtained about the litigants as most useful. Survey findings suggested judges perceived there to be a shortage of trained evaluators and also consider child custody evaluations too expensive and too time‐consuming. Overall, judges find child custody evaluations useful and clearly desire experts to include recommendations on legal custody and parenting time schedules in their reports.

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