The Genocide of Battered Mothers and their Children


In domestic law on April 9, 2012 at 5:01 am

Parenting Evaluation, Parenting Plans
Reevaluating the Evaluators: Rethinking the Assumptions of Therapeutic Jurisprudence in the Family Courts


Reevaluating the Evaluators: Rethinking the Assumptions of Therapeutic Jurisprudence in the Family Courts

Child Custody Evaluations -therapeutic jurisprudence - custody evaluators - guardians ad litem - parenting plans - parenting evaluationThere is an evolving and worsening mess in the systems and procedures currently in place to determine child custody and perform child custody evaluations when parents disagree.

This article discusses the minimum disclosures every child custody evaluator (also known as "parenting evaluator" or "best interests" guardian ad litem or GAL) [1], or parenting coordinator (herein called a "mental health professional" or "MHP") [2a] should be required to make, responding satisfactorily and in full, before being appointed in any family law case to do a child custody evaluation — in fact before doing anything beyond answering a list of limited, detailed, specific, and narrowly-crafted questions the answers to which are directly within the MHP’s field of proved expertise. This format is being used to help illustrate a problem, and with another purpose in mind. That purpose is to call for a revolt altogether against the notion of "therapeutic jurisprudence" — which has been proved to do little to benefit children, much to benefit the divorce industry, much to complicate and pervert our family laws, much to erode fundamental rights and liberties, and much to harm the families who become trapped in the system. There are many problems, of course. But they are symptoms. Step one is to get the agent of most of them out of our family courts. The Emperor has no clothes.

Child Custody Evaluations -why custody evaluators' arguments about not turning over test data are wrongThere have been many calls for reform [2b], but for the most part, while they are admirable and well-documented intentions, they miss the boat; while they identify various problems and propose fixes in the system, they fail to identify and address the core reason the system is sick. Thus the proposals seek to treat only symptoms while failing to apply a cure to eliminate the disease.

Contrary to the public perception, and the perception that those seeking lucrative appointments in the court system wish to convey, a degree in some field of mental health does not qualify the individual to perform work that consists of open-ended investigating, evaluating, recommending, or decision-making about other persons’ families and children. [3] What originally commenced, and was thought to be a good idea as a judge’s assigment of fairly narrow tasks designed to streamline fact-finding and protect individuals’ therapy records [4] (e.g. asking a social worker to do a home study, e.g. asking a psychologist to opine on the possible effects on functioning of a party’s known or suspected personality disorder or state of depression when mental health already is at issue) has burgeoned into a free-for-all in which a panoply of MHPs make work and involve themselves in the family court system at enormous cost and detriment to the parties with expensive litigation-exacerbating processes, trials-within-trials, experts and counter-experts, and inevitable referrals to additional MHPs (often cronies) for all manner of alternate dispute resolutions and sometimes endless (and often utterly unproven) therapies. [5]

(1) Do you have a law degree or previous extensive experience as a law enforcement officer doing investigations, and if not, what qualifies you to do this work?

The milieu in which the MHP will be working is the justice system, in which litigants have certain rights of due process [6] and in which decisions made in connection with one issue can materially affect a litigant’s position as to seemingly unrelated issues in the same case, and in which milieu, inter alia, centuries of jurisprudence have honed certain concepts involving what constitutes reliable evidence, burdens of proof, and other legal aspects bearing on the ultimate resolution of a case. [7] Sociologists, psychologists, and even real scientists by reason of their formal training tend to have little understanding of or appreciation for these legal concepts. [8]

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