A Handbook of Divorce and Custody: Forensic, Developmental, and Clinical Perspectives, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

A Handbook of Divorce and Custody

Forensic, Developmental, and Clinical Perspectives, 1st Edition

Edited by Linda Gunsberg, Paul Hymowitz


436 pages

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The Handbook of Divorce and Custody brings together mental health professionals and forensic specialists dedicated to working in the legal arena with families in crisis. Section I provides the individual perspectives of experienced clinicians, all of whom share a psychodynamic and developmental purview, and supplements their accounts with the viewpoints of a lawyer and a judge. Section II examines parental psychopathology, which is often at the root of family conflict and turmoil. Section III deals with the nature and extent of the state's potential involvement with the family, from ensuring parents' rights to raise their children to identifying those circumstances that justify the termination of parental rights. The remaining three sections follow the progressive issues engaged by divorcing families as they work their way through the legal system: forensic evaluation, post-divorce legal arrangements, and the emotional aftermath of divorce, including indications for various types of therapeutic intervention.

Through the Handbook, contributors pay special attention to a set of core issues that underlie - and complicate - the evaluations, recommendations, and judicial determinations that enter into the divorce/custody process. Specifically, they focus on the inherent conflict between the family's right to privacy and the state's commitment to the best interest of children; the increasingly uncertain question of what constitutes a family and who has the right to legal standing; the problematic role of fathers in the lives of their children; the nature of the evaluation process and the role of the forensic expert in a "good enough" evaluation; the important differences between the role of therapist and the role of evaluator; and, finally, the impact of divorce itself on the lives of today's children.


"This book is must reading for everyone - mental health professionals, attorneys, judges, policy makers - committed to understanding the psychology of child custody. It is unique in that the contributors share a clear focus on the central issues of child custody: the child's experiences and their role in the child's development. It includes succinct summaries of decades of work by many of the leaders in child custody research as well as insightful clinical discussions. Read it and come away with a clear picture of this rapidly developing field."

- Robert M. Galatzer-Levy, M.D., Lecturer in Psychiatry, University of Chicago

"A Handbook of Divorce and Custody: Forensic, Developmental, and Clinical Perspectives is a wonderful contribution to the literature dealing with the intersection of the courts, family law, and mental health issues. It serves as a vibrant reminder of how much psychodynamic and particularly psychoanalytic perspectives and insights have to offer those who work at these crossroads. I am particularly impressed with the breadth of the contributions to the volume. The chapters touch on practically every concern that one might encounter in thinking about how courts, parents, and children interact and the consequences of those interactions."

- Jesse A. Goldner, Professor of Law, Center for Health Law Studies, St. Louis University

“This book is an excellent resource that I highly recommend as a guide to help your patients navigate their way through the storm and stress of divorce.”

- Kathleen Hushion, CSW, NMCOP Newsletter

Table of Contents

I. The Courtroom: A Multidisciplinary Collaboration

Interlude I - Linda Gunsberg

1. What Judges Want (and Children Dream) - Alison Whitmer Tumas

2. A Lawyer's Considerations in Selecting a Mental Health Expert - Robert Z. Dobrish

3. Representation of the Child to the Court: The Law Guardian and Guardian ad Litem - Patricia Ann Grant and Steven Klee

4. Considering Custody Evaluations: The Thrills and the Chills - Bernice H. Schaul

5. Ethical and Legal Considerations in Child Custody Evaluations - James S. Wulach and David L. Shapiro

II. Parental Psychopathology and Its Impact on the Child

Interlude II - Paul Hymowitz

6. Home Is Where the Hurt Is: Developmental Consequences of Domestic Conflict and Violence on Children and Adolescents - Ava L. Siegler

7. Soul Blindness: A Child Must Be Seen to Be Heard - Jack Novick and Kerry Kelly Novick

8. Betrayal of the Family: The Parental Affair as Family Incest - Linda Gunsberg

9. Parental Alienation: The Creation of a False Reality - Moisy Shopper

III. Parents' Rights and Responsibilities

Interlude III - Paul Hymowitz

10. When Should Courts Be Empowered to Make Child-Rearing Decisions? - Martin Guggenheim

11. Divorce and Custody in a Changing Society - Albert J. Solnit and Barbara F. Nordhaus

12. The Rights of Parents and Stepparents: Toward a Redefinition of Parental Rights and Obligations - Alan J. Klein

13. When the State Has Custody: The Fragile Bond of Mothers and Their Infants on the Prison Nursery - Susan W. Silverman

14. When Families Cannot Be Healed: The Limits of Parental Rights - Michele Galietta

IV. The Forensic Expert's Challenge: Making Recommendations in the Best Interests of Children

Interlude IV - Linda Gunsberg

15. The Developmental Evolution of the Family Forensic Evaluation - Linda Gunsberg

16. Empirically Assisted Assessment of Family Systems - Barry Bricklin and Gail Elliot

17. Parents' Sensitivity to the Child's Creative and Spiritual Core: An Overlooked Consideration in Child Custody Determinations - Elaine Schwager

18. Evaluation of Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse in Child Custody Disputes - B. J. Cling

V. The Dilemma of Visitation

Interlude V - Paul Hymowitz

19. Tailoring Parental Visitation Orders to the Developmental Needs of Children of Divorce - Cynthia Dember and Vivian Fliman

20. An Attachment Theory Framework for Planning Infant and Toddler Visitation Arrangements in Never-Married, Separated, and Divorced Families - Judith Solomon

21. Visitation in High-Conflict Families: The Impact on a Child's Inner Life - Barbara B. Hauser

22. Supervised Visitation: Preserving the Rights of Children and Their Parents - Alan J. Tuckman

23. Relocation: Parents' Needs, Children's Interests - Paul Hymowitz

VI. Aftermath and Healing

Interlude VI - Linda Gunsberg

24. Experiencing the Absent Father: In Sight and Inside - Lora Heims Tessman

25. Psychotherapy with Children and Parents During Divorce - Diana Siskind

26. Clinical Work with Parents in Entrenched Custody Disputes - Janet R. Johnston

27. Parental Divorce and Developmental Progression: An Inquiry into Their Relationship - Judith Wallerstein and Deborah Resnikoff

Epilogue - Linda Gunsberg

About the Editors

Linda Gunsberg, Ph.D., is Chair, Family Forensics Training Program, Washington Square Institute for Psychotherapy and Mental Health, New York, and Co-chair, Psychoanalysis and the Law Discussion Group, American Psychoanalytic Association.

Paul Hymowitz, Ph.D., is Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, New York Medical College, and Co-chair, Interdisciplinary Forum on Mental Health and Family Law.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Reference
PSYCHOLOGY / Psychotherapy / Couples & Family