Forensics and the Best Interests of the Child
In the state of Florida, courts place children and form parenting plans for divorced or separated parents based on the “best interests of the child” standard. There are several factors courts use to investigate what these interests are and how they will best be served. One newer method is to consult a forensic expert with experience in custody cases, who can testify in court to help courts understand how to best provide for the child.
A forensic expert presents scientific facts and behavioral evidence to the court. For instance, a forensic expert may be able to point to psychological and behavioral indicators to show whether and to what extent there is a secure attachment between the child and one or both parents. They may also be able to speak to whether the parent seeking custody is likely to be a competent one, whether the children will suffer any developmental difficulties or distress as a result of limiting or expounding contact with one parent over another, and how courts should best go about promoting the child’s welfare in terms of future psychological and social development.
Forensic experts in child custody cases often step in after a custody decision has already been made and is being reevaluated, or after a tentative decision has been made but before it is finalized. At this point in the proceedings, forensic experts generally intervene to overturn misguided or scientifically disproven logic or evidence in order to ensure the child’s placement is maximally beneficial.
One of the most important assumptions forensic experts dispute is the initial notion that one parent should or could be the “custodial” parent while the other the “noncustodial” parent. Experts claim that little to no scientific evidence supports bestowing full or nearly full custody to a single parent, and that, instead, shared parenting is often the most beneficial arrangement for children’s development, stability, and consistency. The state of Florida in particular has grown to accept this evidence, and now generally begins making custody determinations from a perspective of investigating how two parents should share parenting, rather than from a position of choosing one parent to take the kids.
Forensic experts are also able to delve into details regarding the parents. Such experts may be able to explain to judges the relevance and implications of any chemical or drug dependencies on the part of the parents, sexual proclivities, or details regarding the parents’ physical health in light of recent statistical and clinical evidence. A forensic expert with additional expertise in child or adolescent psychology or physiology could additionally discuss any health or mental conditions on the part of the children that may be relevant to their placement.
A skilled and experienced family law attorney can work to make the most effective use of various tools and experts, including forensic experts, to build an individualized approach to your specific circumstances. At Schwartz | White, our experienced Boca Raton family law attorneys are available to assist you with custody and other family law matters. Call 561-391-9943 for a consultation today.