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Guidelines for interviewing children during child custody evaluations
journal contributionposted on 2003-03-01, 00:00 authored by Martine Powell, S Lancaster
This paper offers a brief review of the current literature related to the interviewing of children during child custody evaluations. In particular, the paper highlights several key issues and concerns, and provides a series of recommendations for professionals working in this area. These recommendations (which apply to children aged 3 to 12 years) are organised under the following headings: (a) establish rapport using broad open-ended questions, (b) make the purpose and ground rules of the interview clear to the child, (c) allow the child's perspective be heard without expecting an outright custody preference, (d) demonstrate a willingness to consider all reasonable perspectives or hypotheses about what has occurred, (e) try not to exacerbate the child's stress or guilt, (f) pursue all possible explanations for a child's report, irrespective of whether there are clear signs of “coaching” or contamination, (g) obtain appropriate training in the use of forensic interviewing techniques, and (h) engage in research on the impact of children's participation in custody cases.