The Psychological Evaluation in Child Custody Cases

The purpose of this paper is to provide a framework for understanding this psycholegal situation that both sides now confront. To accomplish this, a historical context will first be presented to illustrate the increasing need for inclusion of psychologists and other mental health professionals in custodial and visitation determinations. Next, the difficulties involved with including psychologists and psychological findings and recommendations in the legal environment will be examined. The purposes and components of the psychological evaluation will then he discussed, along with how well it can meet the demands of custody cases. Associated with this are the factors considered most relevant to custody determinations by the courts.

The Psychological Evaluation in Child Custody Cases

Written by: David S Wachtel, Ph.D.

(Originally published in the Texas Academy of Family Law Attorneys Newsletter, May, 1995).
Initially posted on on 11/05/2006.


The relationships between the legal system and mental health care providers have become increasingly interconnected in recent years.  The increased strain on the family and the emergence of the “disposable society” have resulted in overwhelming numbers of divorces, re-marriages and blended families having become much more commonplace and acceptable.  As a consequence both legal and mental health care professionals have struggled to meet these families’ needs. Continue reading “The Psychological Evaluation in Child Custody Cases”