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What happens when a psychologist is hired for your custody case

On Behalf of | Jan 5, 2021 | Child Custody

Divorces in Illinois are usually much more complicated when children are involved. Parents who likely have serious communication barriers will have to negotiate with each other about many different parenting issues. When negotiations are at a standstill, divorcing spouses may consult with a forensic psychologist to provide an opinion.

What is a forensic psychologist?

A forensic psychologist is a professional who investigates custody disputes from a psychological perspective. He or she will investigate all the parties involved and analyze their relationships in order to form an expert opinion about child custody issues. The psychologist presents his or her findings to the family court judge via a written report.

In some cases, couples agree to hire a forensic psychologist while they are involved in out-of-court negotiations. Both individuals would have to agree, most likely through their lawyers, to have the psychological evaluations completed. Afterward, the psychological report would be used to try to further negotiations.

How does a forensic psychologist make a report?

The forensic psychologist interviews the child at the center of the custody dispute as well as both parents and other important people in the child’s life. The process can be lengthy because both parents may be interviewed multiple times. Unless the child is a toddler or younger, he or she will be interviewed alone.

The psychologist will try to gather as much information about the custody situation as possible. Interviews may be set up with other family members, friends, neighbors and other people with knowledge of the individuals. There may also be reviews of medical, school or job records.

A judge may order one or both parents to undergo a psychological assessment, which is different from a typical investigation. If a psychological assessment is needed, the psychologist will conduct a more in-depth interview to assess psychological stability and parental fitness.

How can I prepare for a psychological investigation?

If a psychologist was hired for your child custody case, you may be worried about the prospect of a psychological evaluation. However, the psychologist will expect that divorcing parents will be stressed, upset and generally not feeling their best at this time. If you have any concerns about this process, you may want to speak to a lawyer.