Over the past five to 10 years, there has been a significant increase in the use of child custody evaluations by the courts. At the same time, the issues have become more complex and difficult. In this book, the author provides a theoretical and practical understanding of many of the issues. A key component is the integration of disparate research findings into a comprehensive resource that will enable the evaluator and the court to understand these complex issues. A second component is to provide a thorough understanding of the fact that divorce brings with it a set of complex needs, and evaluators and the courts must develop a paradigm for weighing these needs in a comprehensive manner.
There has been some direction regarding the ethical obligations of custody evaluators. The American Psychological Association (APA; 1994) has published Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Divorce Proceedings, and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC; 1994) has published Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluations. Copies of those documents can be found in the appendix of my earlier book (Stahl, 1994a). I also wrote about ethics in a later publication that same year (1994b). Since that time, the topic has been discussed at various meetings and workshops. The Judicial Council of California (1999) has just revised the Uniform Standards of Practice for Court Ordered Child Custody Evaluations that evaluators are required to follow in that state. Like the guidelines ...