Chapters 11 through 14 of Stahl’s work, “Conducting child custody evaluations: From basic to complex issues,” cover the various issues the process of granting custody can entail. The first chapter discusses the climate of high-conflict families, where the parents are unable to resolve their personal issues and provide the child with a stable and healthy environment.
In such cases, adhering to a court ruling or a particular plan is difficult, and the family members often do not have the ability to resolve their issues on their own, often suffering from additional bad habits or troubles. In many cases, arguments stem from the parent’s inherent psychological state or personality. External parties and the court system itself may prove as the instigating factor as well. Finding the source of the conflict and its main instigators in this situation is especially important to find a correct resolution.
When the reasons behind arguments are found, structured recommendations, therapy sessions, the involvement of a third party as well as parallel parenting may be used as a solution. The next chapter describes violent behavior in families. The author distinguishes between various types of domestic violence primarily based on their frequency, reasoning, and the presence of a power dynamic. The distinction includes situational violence among couples, controlling violence, and violence perpetrated by separation.
Those who experience family violence can often be emotionally and physically scarred by the experience, which significantly impacts childhood development and well-being. If a parent presents a danger to their child, their visiting time and chances of winning custody will be greatly decreased. The 13th chapter discusses the concept of an alienated child.
The term is used to describe children that feel disproportionately discontent with one of their parents, refusing to visit them. Alienation can be a result of a variety of factors, including a child’s development, any of the parents’ personalities, the complexity of the divorce procedure, and the influence of other related parties. A child feeling alienated typically has a hard time interacting with one of their parents, presenting exaggerated complaints and showcasing contradictory behavior.
Each alienated child needs their own approach to successfully resolve the problems that impede their communication with the parents, and their attitudes towards the process may vary significantly. The last chapter concerns relocation efforts in relation to child custody. A parent’s decision to move may negatively impact the child’s well-being and their ability to effectively communicate with the other parent.
When deciding on the parent’s ability to move, the court has to consider both the good a child’s move would make to their relationship with the local community, as well as their ability to keep visiting their other parent. An informed decision needs to be made on the child’s custody and its holder. These chapters provided an interesting overview of how the evaluator might look at some of the more topical issues of child custody.