California Considers Revising Methodology Behind Custody Determinations

California has an interesting child custody bill pending.

Proponents of the bill would leave more of the burden of putting forth evidence on custody directly on the parties – and more of the burden of determining custody on judges, based on that evidence.

First, the bill aims to limit the use of formal custody evaluations by professional custody evaluators, typically therapists of some kind.

Second, the bill explicitly prohibits use of the much-debated and criticized term “Parental Alienation Syndrome” – and the word “alienation” – in custody evaluations.

Interestingly, opponents of the bill include several psychological associations – and the California Bar’s section of family law members.

I have posted several times about parental alienation syndrome and the debate raging over its legitimacy:

  1. One Parent’s Parental Alienation is Another Parent’s Protection of Their Child
  2. Aftermath of Parental Alienation: Children Grown Up
  3. Parental Alienation Syndrome: Fact or Fiction?

One California evaluator points out that some evaluators tend to find alienation in almost every case – and others rarely, if ever, find alienation. Unfortunately, the basis for their conclusions may have less to do with the case at hand than the expert’s point of view.

Many women’s groups contend that alienation claims have led to custody awards to abusers.

Many men’s groups contend that alienation claims have damaged, if not destroyed, their relationships with their children.

Sadly, there is truth in both positions.

And even some psychologists admit that often it is not possible for evaluators to tell whether alleged child victims of alienation are in fact victims of abuse – or coaching.

Read more in this San Bernardino Sun article: Bill wades in to custody battles.