Judges in California sometimes bring in a forensic psychologist to assist them in making decisions on child custody. It’s possible for attorneys or the parents to request a forensic psychologist as well.
Forensic psychologists often interview the people who are important in the child’s life. People whom they might talk with include teachers, counselors, coaches, doctors, friends, babysitters and other family members. They also interview the child to further investigate what their relationships are like with everyone in their life.
A forensic psychologist usually makes time to talk to the child separately, unless the child is a baby or toddler. During the discussion, they typically don’t ask with whom they prefer to live. They ask questions about their hobbies, friends and relationships within the family. Forensic psychologists also spend time observing the child with their parents. In some situations, they make a home visit too.
Forensic psychologists assess the strengths and weaknesses of each parent. If there are signs of mental instability, then they may conduct a deeper psychological assessment. The mental well-being of each parent is an important consideration for child custody decisions. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t receive joint custody. It depends on the details of your situation and your willingness to seek treatment if you have a mental health condition.
Two other factors that a forensic psychologist looks at are each parent’s child-rearing philosophy and their willingness to involve the other parent in raising their kid together. The judge has the responsibility to do what’s in the child’s best interest. Forensic psychologists share their opinions of what’s in the child’s best interest after their investigation.
Bringing a forensic psychologist into your child custody negotiations could be helpful if you are struggling to reach an agreement. If a court battle is complex, then a judge may order that a forensic psychologist provide their opinion.