Efforts over the past 20 or more years to increase the scientific basis of assessment and decision-making in family law matters have provided many benefits to the field and has been an overwhelmingly positive trend. Yet, there have been unintended consequences as professionals increasingly try to establish standardized methods and procedures based on available research. We suggest those consequences include: creation of standards that cannot be reasonably met in an efficient and cost effective way; intensification and increase in litigation; de-emphasis on settlement-based approaches; upsurge of scrutiny of evaluations and assessments; mental health professionals and attorneys alike practicing defensively; decrease in civility and less openness to collaborative approaches; loss of confidence in the family law system; and reluctance of new professionals willing enter the field. This plenary will examine these problematic phenomena and explore alternative approaches to delivering services. They include matching targeted interventions and investigations with specific needs to assist in best interest determinations.
Attendees will be able to:
- Identify two positive consequences of efforts to make evaluations and decision-making in family law more scientific.
- Identify two unintended negative consequences of efforts to make evaluations and decision-making in family law more scientific.
- Describe one change in the adversarial system that would reduce conflict and acrimony and re-focus efforts on the best interests of the child.