American Judges Association



Date of this Version

July 2005


Published in Court Review: The Journal of the American Judges Association, 42:2 (2005), pp. 2. Copyright © 2005 National Center for State Courts. Used by permission. Online at


Our lead article will be of interest to all judges who made child-custody decisions as part of their work. Psychologist Ira Turkat notes a seldom- discussed but critical point about child-custody evaluations conducted by psychologists—there is no scientific data demonstrating the validity of these reports. Given that fact, he discusses questions judges should ask and the framework within which these reports should be viewed. He also notes a recent Florida Court of Appeals case, Higginbotham v. Higginbotham (reprinted at page 9), in which the court noted that a court-ordered psychological evaluation had cost $20,000, an amount equal to the parties’ net worth, in a case in which the appellate court considered the issues “neither complex nor voluminous.” The Florida appellate court is right to point out that judges should carefully consider the costs attendant to these investigations. Dr. Turkat’s article provides help in considering whether the benefits are likely to exceed the costs for a given case.

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