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Hiring a forensic psychologist to help with a custody dispute

On Behalf of | Dec 30, 2020 | Blog, Family Law

Child custody disputes in New Jersey can become very complicated when parents do not have the same goals about a parenting plan. Things can get even more intense when one parent accuses the other parent of being unfit and tries to get sole custody. It’s in situations like these where a court may bring in a forensic psychologist to offer an expert opinion.

Parents may agree to hire a psychologist

If negotiations on child custody are still ongoing outside of court, both parents may reach a mutual agreement to hire a forensic psychologist. With the help of their lawyers, the parents would have to sign a consent agreement to allow the psychologist to complete a thorough psychological evaluation. There are several reasons parents may decide to hire a psychologist for their child custody case:

  • One parent may be accusing the other parent of being psychologically unstable.
  • Parents may disagree about what custody arrangement is best for the psychological well-being of their child.
  • Parents can’t agree on a settlement, but they can agree to take into consideration the findings of a psychologist.
  • Parents know that the case will be going to court, so they want expert testimony from a psychologist.

A court may appoint a psychologist

Sometimes, a judge will hire a forensic psychologist to look into a child custody case that is already in court. A judge may require expert testimony about the psychology of the parents, the children and all of the relationships involved in the custody dispute. A judge may also want to determine if the parents have psychological problems, in which case the judge will order a psychological assessment.

What does a forensic psychologist do?

In child custody cases, a forensic psychologist typically conducts multiple interviews with the parents and the children. The psychologist might also interview other important people in the family’s life and look at any relevant medical or mental health records. Ultimately, the psychologist will use all of the information that they gather during the investigation to offer an expert opinion on child custody matters.