Bias and Inaccurate Parenting Evaluations: 3 Tips From An Expert

After receiving the results of a parenting evaluation, which likely includes recommendations for timesharing and decision making responsibilities, many parents are left feeling speechless and shocked by the clear signs of biases found throughout the final report. This is because, the reality is, that the results of a Social Investigation (previously referred to as a “child custody evaluation”), often hold a tremendous amount of weight in the courtroom. This fact is especially true if the outcome of the report is not properly challenged by the less favored parent and their attorney.

There are many warning signs that should alert unfavored parents and their attorneys to the fact that a “work product review” may be necessary for clarification in the courtroom. These reviews should typically be performed by a forensic psychologist qualified to present the court with expert rebuttal witness testimony. This practice tends to be necessary in order to shed light on the methodological shortcomings, which can potentially invalidate the recommendations provided within the final report. Then, if the rebuttal expert’s testimony is performed confidently and competently, the Judge ideally be willing to state that very little, if any, weight will be given to the initial parenting evaluation.

The following three examples are a just a few of the many warning signs parents and their attorneys should look for when deciding whether or not to retain a forensic psychologist to perform a work product review on the report written on a comparative parenting evaluation:

1. If the evaluator spent an exorbitant amount of time communicating with the favored parent, far greater than that of the unfavored parent, this should begin raising some eye brows. While completing these reviews, the rebuttal expert may find that the initial evaluator spent a disproportionate amount of time engaging in interviews, telephone calls, collateral contacts, emails, and parent/child observation with the favored parent. The rebuttal psychologist also often finds situations which lead to cognitive biases, such as when one parent (who is ultimately the favored parent) has been interviewed first, and sometimes several times, before ever even speaking to the second parent (who will ultimately become the unfavored parent).

2. If the evaluator fails to include information, or the connecting link, that led to their recommendations, you have the right to be concerned. Anyone can offer a lay opinion based on their personal beliefs. The point of hiring the psychologist for the evaluation is to obtain EXPERT opinions that are supported with research obtained from peer reviewed literature reviews.

3. If the report does not include collateral sources of information, and accusations are stated as if they are facts, this is a sign that the evaluator may not have proper forensic training. In court ordered forensic evaluations, the evaluators must not assume information they hear is either true or false, without double checking the information through various methodologies. Evaluators must attempt to confirm or dis-confirm the allegations, in an effort to make recommendations based on accurate information.

To learn more ways that our experts may be able to assist your case, please call us today. We are happy to listen to your concerns and discuss ways we may be able to assist in strengthening your case.

Please call us today at (561) 429-2140. We look forward to speaking to you.

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