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Keywords:

  • family law attorneys;
  • child custody evaluations;
  • preparing clients;
  • child custody disputes;
  • litigation;
  • mental health consultants

We surveyed 113 family attorneys regarding what they did to prepare their clients for child custody evaluations and litigation. Findings revealed that participants saw child custody evaluations as useful on a variety of levels and effective in settling cases. In general, participants reported using professionally acceptable procedures, appropriately advocated for their clients, and dealt with complaints in a reasonable fashion. Referrals to mental health professionals in advance of a child custody evaluation were generally made to provide support rather than for evaluation or test preparation. Work product reviews by mental health consultants were infrequent, although such reviews were seen as highly useful by those who used them. Lastly, participants reported that allegations of parental alienation and domestic violence were often used to gain leverage in custody cases. Implications for practice are discussed for both attorneys and evaluators.