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CHILD CUSTODY EVALUATIONS: THE NEED FOR SYSTEMS-LEVEL OUTCOME ASSESSMENTS

Authors


  • Robert F. Kelly (Ph.D., Rutgers) is a professor of sociology and the former Acting Dean of Arts & Sciences at Le Moyne College where he held the College's Francis J. Fallon, S.J. Endowed Professorship from 1995 to 1998. He teaches research methodology, law and social science, marriage and families, and demography. He has conducted research and written extensively on public welfare, family law, divorce, and research methods. He has held visiting and research positions at Child Trends, Inc., Stanford Law School, Margaret Warner Graduate School of the University of Rochester, Syracuse University College of Law, and the Institute of Policy Sciences at Duke University.

  • Sarah H. Ramsey is a professor of law at Syracuse University College of Law and a Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence. She also is the director of the Family Law and Social Policy Center at the College of Law and co-director of the Syracuse Family Advocacy Program. She is the author of books and articles on child and family law, including a number of articles on the use of social science in family law cases. She is a member of the American Law Institute and is an American Bar Foundation Fellow.

s: kellyrf@lemoyne.edu; shramsey@law.syr.edu

Abstract

Child custody evaluations need to be studied systemically as a human service system. There is little research on the history, caseload dynamics, economics, delivery systems, or impact of custody evaluations. This article identifies five systems-level questions about custody evaluations and examines one, outcomes assessment, in detail by developing seven outcome hypotheses. The article concludes that such research could improve the practice and use of child custody evaluations.

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