Assessment in child custody cases. Critical considerations about the role of the forensic psychologist

Luisa Puddu, Rosalba Raffagnino


This paper offers some critical reflections on the role of forensic psychologists in custody cases, and in particular on the content (what) and the process (how) of their assessment. These considerations lie in the “mild” law framework, that is, they are neither prescriptive nor proscriptive, but a forensic perspective oriented toward desirable actions. In this regard, the desirability of the actions is strictly linked to the main aim of child protection, which implies a focus on the relational, family and social contexts in which they live. When psychologists recognize a conflicting relationship between partners, it is appropriate not to limit their activity to merely evaluate; on the contrary, they they should implement “psycho-forensic intervention” to support parenting, and to steer the partners toward proper clinical or psycho-educational paths. In this way, the assessment process becomes a dynamic process. The Authors offer some suggestions regarding the steps, methods and techniques of this dynamic process, to be activated and managed in custody cases by psychologists, when dealing with parents in persistent marital conflict, incapable of facing up to their crisis in a constructive way.


custody cases; forensic psychology; psycho-educational intervention; psycho-forensic assessment; conflicting parenting

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