Can Child Custody Evaluations Harm a Child?

When a couple with children divorces or separates, the court may actually order child-custody evaluations in order to find what experts believe are the best living, time-sharing and decision-making arrangements for the child.

However, according to one psychologist, these evaluations may be doing more harm than good. So, why is this? Here are a few of the doctor’s reasons:

  • Many people claim these are detrimental to children.
  • The evaluations can actually be very expensive, taking away money from the parents when the finances are already being drained.
  • Some scientific literature states that mental health providers may actually cause harm to their patients.
  • Some parents, unfortunately, may simply accept the results of the evaluations in order to save money.
  • Information that the child wishes to be kept private could be revealed to the parents.
  • And diagnostic errors can occur by the mental health professional and the court may be unaware of it.

Lack of Evidence Regarding Child Custody Evaluations Effect

There is an astonishing lack of scientific evidence about these evaluations — either for or against the practice. The psychologist could only find one study that addressed the detrimental effects of custody evaluations on children.

Survey authors interviewed one hundred and one individuals, and the results were shocking. Almost 25 percent of children had experienced negative effects because of the evaluation. And twenty percent had their lives worsened by the recommendations of the evaluators. Finally, 65 percent of parents felt that the money spent on the evaluations could have been better used for the children.

Do Custody Evaluations Give Kids Too Much Information?

Some of the comments made by the parents at the survey’s end were, “It created tension in my children, them getting confused on whom to support, me or her. Long and the short of it, nothing good came out of it” and “My kids knew what was going on, the purpose and reason of the eval. It put them in the middle of the battle between my ex-wife and I. It was emotionally draining for them. They wanted it to be over.”

Are you in the midst of a child custody battle with your child’s other parent? If so, and there is a child custody evaluation coming up, be sure to ask your attorney any questions you may have.

Source:, “Harmful Effects of Child-Custody Evaluations on Children,” Ira Turkat, accessed June 30, 2017

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