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Psychological Testing During A Custody Evaluation

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Sometimes during a child custody dispute, the court may decide that is needs additional information about the parties in order to determine what sort of custody arrangement is in the best interest of the parties‘ children.In these cases, the court may appoint an expert to conduct what is known in New Mexico as a custody evaluation, which is a formal investigation into each party‘s respective parenting skills and limitations and the needs of their children.

Generally, a full custody evaluation includes some or all of the following: a parental history survey; personal interviews with the parents and sometimes the children; psychological testing of both parents and sometimes the children; observed parent/child interactions; collateral contact with significant figures in the children‘s lives, like stepparents and therapists; and, follow-up interviews.

Again, the custody evaluation, including psychological testing, is geared toward achieving the best interests of the child(ren).

During the psychological testing phase, the evaluator may administer some or all of the following psychological or personality tests:

Minnesota Multi-Phasic Personality Inventory
The Minnesota Multi-Phasic Personality Inventory (“the MMPI”) consists of 567 questions, which require the test-taker to “agree” or “disagree” with many statements. The MMPI is considered almost impossible, if not completely impossible, for an ordinary person to “cheat” on. Typically, if a person tries to cheat, they will more than likely score poorly.

Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory
The Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (“the MCMI”) is somewhat similar to the MMPI. The test includes 175 true-false questions. The MCMI differs from other personality tests in that it is based on theory and is organized according to a multiaxial format. The test is intended to help identify underlying personality disorders, or traits, and then design an appropriate treatment programs.

Rorschach
The Rorshach Test, which is also known as the inkblot test, is a test where a person‘s perceptions of inkblots are recorded and then analyzed using psychological interpretations or complex algorithms. The test is administered in a very rigid way with a particular format to minimize variances in the results. The Rorshach inkblots are supposed to remain secret, so that a subject cannot prepare answers or attempt to affect the results in some way.

Rotter Incomplete Sentence Blank
The Rotter Incomplete Sentence Blank is a psychological test that comes in different forms for different age groups. It contains 40 sentences that are to be completed in 20 minutes. The sentences are usually only 1-2 words and the subject is then asked to complete the sentence. By grouping and evaluating the subject‘s responses, the evaluator can make determinations about the subject‘s psychological state of mind.

Psychological or personality testing is only one aspect of a custody evaluation, just as a custody evaluation is only one aspect of a custody dispute. However, both can have a significant effect on the court‘s ultimate decision on custody. Anyone involved in a custody dispute should consult with an experienced family law attorney in order to understand what the law requires of both parents and the courts in determining what sort of custody arrangement is in the best interest of the children.

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Related Reading:
The “Best Interests Of The Child” in New Mexico Involves Many Factors
Reunification Therapy in New Mexico Child Custody Cases
Rules Regarding Parental Fitness in New Mexico Kinship Guardianship

Collins & Collins, P.C.
Albuquerque Attorneys

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